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The Other Woman

April 25, 2014
The Other Woman

I will never understand why women choose to consume media that so obviously hates them, or even to accept that this is what’s being marketed to them. The Other Woman seems to position itself as the next Bridesmaids, but female leads do not a good girl-comedy make, and Nick Cassavetes is no Paul Feig.

Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a hard-driving career woman with a corner office in her law firm and an active and varied sex life. Or at least she had one; by the time we catch up with her, she’s cleared either the roster or the bench in favor of the dreamy Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Her previous history we have to take on faith from her incredulous secretary (Nicki Minaj in a truly cringe-inducing performance). This guy might be The One, and she even decides to introduce him to her father (Don Johnson).

Mark cancels over a “plumbing emergency” at his house in Connecticut. Carly decides to show up and surprise him anyway, only to run into his wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), and make an embarrassed exit. But Kate doesn’t process this revelation as well, and she starts showing up at Carly’s work and home, a drowning woman clinging desperately to the only other person around. And Carly slowly warms to her.

It’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops: Mark is cheating on both of them. They follow him out to his beach house, hole up with Kate’s brother Phil (Taylor Kinney), and meet the other other woman, Amber (Kate Upton), who immediately falls in with the gang.

So we’ve got three different women to choose from, and they’re all awful. The gamut of female identity runs from Amber, the airheaded bimbo, to Kate, the Stepford dingbat, to Carly, the overbearing queen who still becomes a babbling idiot when faced with a hot guy. These stoogettes line up as Curly, Larry, and Moe, but without half the madcap energy that made the Stooges’ antics bearable. There’s not a likable one in the bunch.

On top of the dim view the movie takes of its female leads, it doubles down in the way they treat Mark. I don’t mean to defend him, but it seems telling that most of their revenge consists of emasculating him in one way or another. They even surreptitiously dose him with estrogen — “enough for a pre-op tranny!” for a nice shot of transphobia — because there can evidently be no bigger punishment for a man than becoming a woman.

Annie and Lillian in Bridesmaids felt like real women and real friends who had something to bond over besides hating the same guy. The Other Woman just offers a bunch of harpies ganging up on a big, bad man and calling it girl power. Real women are smart enough to tell the difference.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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