Cameron Diaz as Carly Whitten
Leslie Mann as Kate King
Kate Upton as Amber
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Mark King
Nicki Minaj as Lydia
Taylor Kinney as Phil
Don Johnson as Frank
Super serious power lawyer Carly (Diaz) seems to have finally found the perfect man, a sincere and charming Wall Street power player (Coster-Waldau) who fully compliments all the elements of her life, allowing her to finally consider settling down for good and all. Right up until she discovers Mr. Right already came to the same conclusion several years earlier, and is cozily settled in Connecticut with Mrs. Right (Mann) ? that is when he’s not in the city pretending to be single.
What follows is 100 minutes of Carly re-evaluating her life and how messy it really is, but is in fact a shell designed to keep her safe from ever developing a connection with anyone, until she becomes best friends with the other woman. At least that seems to have been the initial idea. Unfortunately, Carly is so put together and super serious about everything it quickly becomes obvious to everyone, including the filmmakers that a comedy situated on her is going to be a bit on the dry side. They solve that problem not by making obvious changes to Carly but by saddling her with Mark’s terminally un-put-together wife who is so desperate for an outlet (and has no friends of her own) that she latches onto to Carly and won’t let her go no matter what. Which does give “The Other Woman” an outlet for an occasional laugh at Kate’s successive breakdowns but also makes it terminally muddled as the film tries to keep its focus on Carly but inevitably drifts back to the funnier Kate. Eventually you can’t help but wonder why the movie isn’t all about Kate and what the purpose of Carly is (sans high concept).
The lack of a clear vision and the drift from the original concept gradually drag on everything in the film, and the requirement that Kate remain in support means she never changes on her own and can only reproduce the same jokes over and over again. Eventually Cassavetes and his team resort to throwing everything they can think of at the wall to see what sticks. When they start to worry that we’ve had too much of Kate and Carly’s hijinks they throw in some scatology which is the moron’s version of sharp comedy. Most of that is focused on Mark (which doesn’t particularly play to Coster-Waldau’s strengths) as the girls alter the focus from getting Kate away from Mark to making him pay after they discover he has more mistresses than they knew about, including gorgeous swimsuit model Amber (Upton), who offers as little to the film as Kate’s handsome contractor brother (Kinney).
The fact that they bother suggests the filmmakers realize they can’t just rely on Mann all of the time and that there is something missing from their core concept. The fact that the new characters could be removed from the film entirely without altering it one bit, suggests they don’t know exactly what it is that’s missing or have any idea what to do about it, so they’re just going to soldier on to the bitter end.
To be fair, “The Other Woman” is sometimes funny ? it swings at everything so it naturally hits every so often ? but it’s more often annoying and muddled and that disparity kills any chance of actual entertainment. It’s not awful, just in desperate need of a complete re-think from the ground up. Is there anything to take away from “The Other Woman?” I don’t know. Niki Minaj does a good Fran Drescher impression.