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Review: 'The Other Woman' needs to be angrier, wastes Kate Upton

Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton play women who team up to destroy the man they're all unwittingly sleeping with in "The Other Woman."

Leslie Mann mourns her marriage in one of the angrier scenes in "The Other Woman." Credit: Barry Wetcher Leslie Mann mourns her marriage in one of the angrier scenes in "The Other Woman."
Credit: Barry Wetcher

'The Other Woman'
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann
Rating: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

Early in “The Other Woman,” jilted housewife Kate (Leslie Mann) complains to Carly (Cameron Diaz), her husband’s mistress, about the dating pool that awaits a woman her age after a nasty divorce. What’s implied is that, in middle age, men have it fine: Her husband, an oily but dashing corporate beast named Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), can still attract whoever he wants. Meanwhile someone like Kate, suddenly thrust back into singlehood after 20 years, gets only a “puddle.” Carly assures her it’s actually worse, even though she still looks, in early middle age, like Cameron Diaz.

It’s an angry-funny moment, and it’s exactly what “The Other Woman” should have been the entire time. It occasionally is this picture, especially once they discover Mark actually has a second affairee: a young, buxom, Kate Upton-ish hottie played by Kate Upton, who reminds Carly that she’s getting up in years. Sometimes it’s another, almost good picture, one fueled by female bonding that avoids you-go-girl cliches — despite a musical montage actually set to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” When they knock back drinks, it’s both for girl time and borne out of anxiety: They know society will one day put them out to pasture.

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Unfortunately they also have to get revenge on Mark. Honestly this should be the best part, especially given that they easily recruit Upton’s ditzy Amber to their team. But the writing is shockingly unimaginative, their revenge more like juvenile pranks, including gags about Asians and the transgendered. Ripping off “Bridesmaids” — or a “Police Academy” entry — they dump laxative in his bourbon, letting rip a poop gag that goes on longer than most poop gags.

This is a good time to mention that the director is Nick Cassavetes, the son of John Cassavetes, which means that the son of the father of American independent cinema directed a long scene of a guy on the can. Say what you will about Nick Cassavetes helming “The Notebook,” but at least that had a cornpone integrity. “The Other Woman” is a hodgepodge, changing styles by the scene. Sometimes it’s Apatow-wannabe, with Mann tasked to repeat her gift for scatterbrained riffs and drunken destruction.
Other times it’s “Bridget Jones,” the soundtrack crammed with forehead-slapping pop hits. (He actually plays “New York, New York” over a shot of the Statue of Liberty.)

The script, too, lacks streamlining; Kate and Carly break up at least twice, while it never figures out what to do with Amber. (Yes, this is a film that wastes Kate Upton.) Worse, it rarely explicitly links the various assaults on Mark to a feminist anger, even when the connection seems like a no-brainer. It's a neutered "9 to 5." Underneath forced pratfalls and happy endings, a smarter, funnier, angrier film — one not noticeably whittled down from an R — frantically tries to scratch its way out.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
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