Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Other Woman is Silly but Satisfying

Image from http://theotherwomanmovie.com; © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
To many of us, the very title of the new film, The Other Woman, might scream: Stay away, emotions and bad memories about to resurface! If you have lived through a real-life scenario involving a long-term mistress or trashy weekend flings, the mere concept might invoke a bout of PTSD. While some unwanted feelings could reappear, I would recommend at least putting it in your Netflix cue, even if you do not think it multiplex worthy. Unlike the frustrating Enough Said, The Other Woman is about spurned women thriving, and that is something I support.

The Other Woman chronicles the reactions of three women, all discovering that the man they are involved with is playing a rather large field. Corporate lawyer Carly, played by Cameron Diaz, learns that her hot, significant other of a couple months, Mark, is married. Dressed as a slutty plumber, she unexpectedly encounters her boyfriend’s wife, Kate, played by Leslie Mann. Over time, Carly finds out that she has a lot in common with the suburban hausfrau, and the two become friends. When yet another affair comes to light, bombshell Kate Upton, playing dim-witted but well-meaning Amber, joins with the women to devise a plan for revenge on the cheating, lying, three-timing scumbag played by Nikolai Coster-Waldau (you might recognize him as Jaime Lannister from the electrifying Game of Thrones). Adding a little diversity to the lineup is the freakishly bodied Nicki Minaj, who occasionally chimes in as Diaz’s assistant.

The film delivers on what it advertises—female revenge—but critics have not been kind to the movie, with the TomatoMeter registering a paltry 26%. These experts complain that the screenplay is laden with featherweight jokes and that the likeable actresses are wasted in a film that settles for cheap laughs instead of capitalizing on the talent at hand to create a truly memorable and empowering movie. I agree somewhat, but that does not mean I did not enjoy it.

The movie is far fetched and goes for low budget humor—the slobbering and pooping Great Dane has almost as much screen time as any of the female leads—but were you really surprised or disappointed? Mark gets his comeuppance, and the ladies are the better for the experience. We expected and hoped for that, and the film delivered. While admittedly not a classic, it is satisfying for women who have endured at least one other woman for this reason: in the movie, the guy pays for his cheating. In real life, unfortunately, guys normally get paid for such behavior in the form of equal distribution of assets, joint custody, etc. No fault divorces may have benefits, but evening the score is not one of them. Society rarely holds people who break vows accountable for their actions. That is why, as trite as the movie is, it can resonate with divorced women who have actually had to confront a slutty plumber or deal with her presence.

After watching The Other Woman, I began to compare it to the other recent movie that featured divorce, Enough Said. On the surface, they both should appeal to divorced women, but they offer very different takes on how women behave after the fact. The former is a fairy tale, where everything is over the top and the “good guy” wins (and there are no children to complicate matters). The latter is also a comedy, but it tries to offer up a more realistic take on divorce and its impact on relationships. The big issue with Enough Said is that the heroine is the problem, and the ending is unsatisfying. So, while Rotten Tomato does not make it a contest—26% to 96%—to me, I like the fantasy of the girls riding off into the sunset, victorious, versus the still-screwed up woman, failing to date successfully after so many years past her divorce. Carly, Kate and Amber learned how to thrive despite betrayal and with the support of each other, while Eva, despite the support of plenty of family and friends, has not figured out how to be honest with the people who matter most to her.

Sorry, TomatoMeter, I’m going against you on this one.


  1. I'm psyched to see The Other Woman!! Sounds satisfying!!

  2. As interested as I am to see the movie, the "real" other woman continues to haunt me. I suspect that in the movie, they all get to walk away and never have to deal with the constant humiliations of seeing her on his arm, with her children, etc. Not sure I could take something making light of this painful subject.