By NATHAN LERNER
You might expect a film, titled “The Other Woman” to involve some brazen hussy, who is knowingly engaged in an adulterous affair. However, in this revenge comedy, the term of opprobrium does not accurately describe its protagonist, Carly (Cameron Diaz). She has been duped by a slimeball, who has lied about his marital status.
Carly is a high-powered Manhattan attorney. Espousing the philosophy that monogamy is inherently unnatural, this hottie has cavorted around town with a vast array of male admirers. Now, Carly thinks that she has finally found Mr. Right. Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from “Game of Thrones”) is a good-looking venture capitalist with an incredible head of hair.
Carly announces that she is retiring from the dating scene to have an exclusive relationship with Mark. She plans to introduce her beau to dear old dad (Don Johnson). He is working on his fifth marriage, including one to Carly’s sorority sister. However, Mark abruptly cancels the meeting, claiming that there has been a flood in his suburban Connecticut home.
Spurred by her father’s advice, Carly shows up at Mark’s home unannounced. When a woman answers the door, Carly assumes that she must be Mark’s housekeeper. In actuality, she is his clueless wife, Kate (Leslie Mann).
Kate is flabbergasted to learn that Mark has been cheating on her. She has deferred to every one of her husband’s wishes. This includes not having children and traveling to China to help advance his entrepreneurial agenda.
Seeking emotional succor, Kate shows up at Carly’s law office and then her home. Much of the film’s putative humor is derived from Kate’s mammoth, piebald Great Dane. In the office scene, in which Kate dons dark glasses and feigns blindness, he becomes her outsized guide dog. When Kate follows Carly to her apartment and insists on intruding, the canine defecates on the floor. This reflects the film’s level of comedic sophistication.
Carly persistently spurns Kate’s efforts to become chummy. The expository dialogue advises us that Kate doesn’t have any friends. This supposedly provides a rationale for Kate’s desire to hang out with her husband’s mistress. However, the film never addresses the incongruity of why the strikingly handsome, metrosexual Mark would marry a shrill-voiced, ill-groomed ditz like Kate.
The film adds an additional twist. Carly and Kate discover that Mark has yet another paramour, Amber (Kate Upton). Initially, they regard her as a hussy. However, upon meeting the young woman, they are disarmed by her sweetness and decide that she is a fellow victim of Mark’s pathological womanizing.
The trio of wronged heroines forge an alliance against the serial seducer. They subject the cad to a series of pathetic pranks. This includes adding estrogen to his smoothies, laxatives to his scotch, and hair remover to his shampoo. This isn’t exactly the stuff of a gun-toting Charles Bronson seeking revenge in “Death Wish.”
The screenplay by Melissa Stack is unfunny, inane, and devoid of any rhyme or reason. It intermittently veers off in various directions, which have little or no dramatic payoff. The synergy between plot elements is poor.
The panoply of painfully broad performances suggests that director, Nick Cassavetes, must bear some measure of culpability. Leslie Mann, as a strident, irrational and overwrought wife, is particularly grating. Nicky Minaj is relegated to a circumscribed role as Carly’s secretary. She also proves abrasive, spouting dialogue like “Selfish people live longer.” Diaz displays her gift for physical comedy, but it is wasted in this vehicle. In an underdeveloped role, Sports Illustrated cover-girl, Upton contributes little other than her buxom, bikini-clad body. The film is further plagued by poor pacing, no dramatic tension, and a decided lack of visual flair.
If you savor the prospect of seeing a thoroughly annoying, laughless comedy, then “The Other Woman” would be a perfect choice.
THE OTHER WOMAN: ★ PG-13 on appeal (for mature thematic material, sexual references, and language) 109 minutes
Nathan Lerner welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org