In another film to take its title from a song (Nina Simone, in case you were wondering), Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann join forces to take revenge on the man who has wronged them both.
Mark King (played by Nikolaj Coster Waldow) is the serial cheater in question who eventually gets put through the wringer by both his wife and his mistress - and a lover, just for good measure. Kate Upton stars as the simple-minded Amber, the third wheel in this equation who is largely surplus to requirements; she seems to be here largely to ensure the film appeals to a younger demographic. Miami Vice fans will spot a familiar face, but I won't spoil it for you by revealing who it is. And there's a lovely comic turn from Nicki Minaj, of all people, who appears as Diaz's legal assistant in a series of scene-stealing costume changes. The film seems to lift a little any time she's on screen.
Leslie Mann is a gifted comic performer who does an incredible job with pretty thin material. Indeed, she's so good, you wonder why we don't see more of her on the big screen. She works well with Diaz, who plays Carly the mistress in question, and shows here just why she is one of Hollywood's hottest properties. There are shades of the 1988 movie Working Girl, as well as The First Wives Club, but sadly The Other Woman lacks the heart of either. I can't help wishing that the studio had employed a female director to helm this project. Ultimately, The Other Woman is a film about female bonding but the bonding here feels superficial. In one cringe-inducing scene the women play rock, paper, scissors to decide who is going to have sex with Mark. It would have been funnier to turn the scene on its head and have Mark using every stereotypical female guile to try to get out of having sex with any of them.
When Mark's comeuppance does come (and, boy, does this film take a long time getting there), the tone takes a dark turn - and that's when things start to go south. By this point, you should be cheering the women on. Instead, you're wondering where Diaz got her shoes. By the end, Diaz and Mann pretty much exchange roles - Mann turns into a shrewd businesswoman and Diaz appears to be about to step away from the career ladder - but we have little clue as to how they got there. At one point, Diaz's character says, "I've changed." I found myself thinking, "Really? I must have missed that part." In the end, The Other Woman is not about female empowerment; it's really about reaffirming the status quo: women have one goal in life - to get and keep a man. Everything else can go hang - including friendships, apparently.
I'm sure groups of women will enjoy watching this on DVD (while drinking cocktails and braiding each other's hair, no doubt), but The Other Woman is neither smart enough nor engaging enough to win me over. Though I have to say Taylor Kinney, who plays Diaz's new squeeze, makes a great piece of man candy.
The Other Woman is in cinemas now