Monday, May 12, 2014

The Other Woman (2014) - Review

When uninformed mistress Carly (Cameron Diaz) has a properly drunk sit-down talk with Kate (Leslie Mann), the wife of her formerly future boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), she is put on the spot about how many times she and him made the beast with two backs. After much stalling, Carly blurts out 50 times, which of course Kate has to shout out repeatedly for public hearing because comedy. If you have been sadly paying attention to this picture as I have, you'll remember that Carly previously said to her personal secretary that they were going steady for 8 weeks. This means that Carly and Mark had sex nearly every single day of their time together, all the while hiding it from Kate, and also even during his other affair with dumb babe Amber (Kate Upton). Either Mark has a rabbit-like libido and the stamina of Hercules or screenwriter Melissa Stack is bad at her job and failed math class. Not too hard to figure out which one is correct.

THE OTHER WOMAN is such a dreadful film that I can't really call it a comedy. Not only are all of the laughs hollow but it often plays like a wannabe drama in the veins of WAITING TO EXHALE or AN UNMARRIED WOMAN. Much to the chagrin of director Nick Cassavetes, these three actresses are not Angela Bassett or Jill Clayburgh, nor can they ever be while playing characters who seemingly have no real lives or jobs and can party hard every time they convene. Instead of being classified as a sex farce, I must break out one of the most hated phrases ever invented and label it as a true chick flick, a female-starring work destined to be fully scuffed at in the coming years but suffice the stupid public in the present. It's rah-rahing for sisterhood could only get worst if it was delivered by the cheerleaders of the Washington Generals, conducted over by Katherine Heigl.

The craftsmanship is so paltry that auteur/enfant terrible Tommy Wiseau would scoff at its shoddy structure. Practically every scene has a quiet soundscape, causing every flat joke to land like a hydrogen bomb. When there is non-diegetic music, they are all inappropriate, such as "Royals" and a somber take on "Love is a Battlefield". Continuity is a non-presence, as everything from hands to wine bottles to hoodies often teleport in between cuts. My anger for this hatchet-job turned to slight remorse when I learned it was co-edited by Alan Heim, the man who helped shape masterpieces like NETWORK and ALL THAT JAZZ. But the majority of this disaster belongs to Cassavetes, who here shows that he loves the directing styles of television sitcoms and wants to cake all the scenes in cerulean blue. Characters often engage in generic shot/reverse-shot spats in the middle of restaurants, filled with background extras who were all instructed to never ever react or stare at the main action; Coster-Waldau at one point farts right in people's faces, thanks to some payback through laxatives, drizzling out streams of fecal matter down his pants yet the only concern from the other patrons is that there water needs to be refilled. When he does venture beyond the bland, Cassavetes goes completely insane: Diaz clearly takes a deadly fall when trying to escape from Mark's sight in one scene and the final comeuppance has things exploding all over the place.

This was designed to be all about female empowerment and camaraderie, so much so that there's an embarrassingly awful scene where the trio slow-mo walk to a beachside in order to hug it out. If that's the case, why does the camera love to focus on Upton's hungry bum, as it chews away on her bikini brief, or her chest jiggling? And why is Mann unbearable as a manic pixie ragdoll, a woman whose traumatic mental collapse is entirely undercut by her unchecked body flailing and unfunny ramblings? Not content with just insulting women, the movie also throws other demographics under the bus. Blacks are displayed through Nicki Minaj, a truly odd casting decision, as people who willingly adore cheating all the time. Asians pop up as subservient beings in a gambling den/brothel, who do all the "handiwork" while the man sits at peace. For its last middle finger, the movie informs the audience that transgender people are gross, a minority that are badly dressed, cherish three-ways, and reside in Thailand.

The only salvageable element I can say of this monstrosity is Kate Upton, who does an okay job playing the dullard of the group. She sadly isn't given the attention as the other two, nor does she really unleash any pranks on the man who has lied to her. Even when the smoke clears and life moves on, Amber doesn't learn anything and returns to being a play toy for scuzzy men. Stack and Cassavetes utterly spit on the spirits of Judy Holliday and Jayne Mansfield with this conclusion, refusing to budge from their regressive ideals. May neither of them be pencilled later into doing a movie about women's suffrage; the schmucks will think they need to come up with two hours of females in peril.


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