Gives Chick Flicks a better name. The Other Woman is ten times better than I had expected, it actually has a smart screenplay. Cameron Diaz is the first to realize her new man has a wife, Leslie Mann, and she has serious neurotic problems. The wife is stalking the mistress! But they become friends and confidantes, and go drinking and get loud together (rich peoples’ problems are so nice!), and then learn there is a third woman: the spunky Kate Upton, who is equally spurned. Nick Cassavetes, the son of indie maverick John Cassavetes, has previously made “The Notebook” and “My Sister’s Keeper” and feels at home making high-toned soap opera-ish comedies with more brains than the usual.
The movie is more interesting with making the wife into a neurotic that would fit aptly in a Woody Allen movie somewhere in-between “Hannah and Her Sisters” or “Mighty Aphrodite,” she practically splatters her problems all over other people. The wife can’t see herself leaving her husband because she is too dependent on him and has a hard time making her own decisions. That leaves the mistress, who is not really a mistress because she didn’t know, to counsel her into becoming a more self-reliant middle-aged woman.
The husband is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the actor of the series “Game of Thrones” and the terrific Norwegian thriller “Headhunters” from a couple years back. I thought, wow, he’s got the chops to be the most charming sleazeball since Don Johnson! And then, to my amusement, Johnson shows up in the movie as Diaz’s happy go lucky father. I recently just discovered Johnson as a pathological womanizer in 1993’s “Guilty as Sin,” and it was amusing to find an equally pathological womanizer in Coster-Waldau’s Mark King.
Bad husbands must get their comeuppance in Chick Flicks. In this movie, Mark King endures punishments such as hair loss, diarrhea runs and abstinence from sex, but he’s so conceited he doesn’t even realize there are three women plotting against him. He feeds on lies and deceits, and sprees without his longtime wife, and even at one point carries on phone sex while his wife is in the other room. Mark has no shame, he carries on like he’s invincible.
How funny is “The Other Woman?” It’s nasty funny, truly. I liked it thoroughly, however, I never loved it. Maybe because it’s quite stuffed – I left feeling I saw the movie and it’s sequel already. There is a subplot about the husband running financial pyramid schemes by creating scam corporations, and while that got complicated, Diaz finally mentors Mann on what that all means. When there isn’t finance talk, or anything about financially ruining Mark the cheater, the girls do slumber party things, go out to pool parties, with Upton the best looking dancer of the three.
I do realize Upton was chosen to pull in the male audience, but I assure you she can also do more than dance. She’s dorky-sexy, funny, neurotic. She fits right in with Diaz and Mann. Together, this trio makes a hipper version than “The First Wives Club.” It’s very watchable.
109 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
COMEDY / CHICK FLICK / WEEKEND DRINKS & MOVIE
Film Cousins: “An Unmarried Woman” (1978); “9 to 5” (1980); “The First Wives Club” (1996); “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003).