Find a back issue

Can The Notebook‘s Director Save The Other Woman From Its Stale Comedic Scenario?

Rating

C

Location

Wide Release

Dates

Opens April 25

There’s nothing like shared interests to turn bitter enemies into BFFs, such as the mutual desire to get revenge on a serial womanizer. That’s the sisterhood scenario in The Other Woman, a predictable romantic comedy that might have doubled as a female-empowerment fantasy if its characters weren’t so shallow and superficial. The target of the scorn is Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a wealthy financier whose affair with Manhattan attorney Carly (Cameron Diaz), seems to be getting serious. But Carly doesn’t know he’s married to Kate (Leslie Mann), who turns up at her office one day after becoming suspicious. But rather than hating one another, some alcohol turns Carly and Kate into friends with the common goal of vengeance against Mark, especially once they find out about a ditzy blonde (Kate Upton) who has entered the picture. After sharing their stories, the women devise an elaborate scheme to turn the tables.

Rookie screenwriter Melissa Stack tries to use various methods to disguise the formulaic and underlying mean-spirited nature of the premise. The script keeps the banter lively, and when it runs out of zingy one-liners, it resorts to scatological standbys such as vomiting into a purse or a painful post-laxative sequence in a posh restaurant. Meanwhile, director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) makes sure most of the romantic-comedy staples are in place, including a lovably slobbering pooch, a soundtrack filled with folksy remakes of past pop hits, and plenty of stylish costume changes.

Collectively, these women are supposed to be sassy and charming, but they wind up more obnoxious and annoying. Carly lacks the common sense of someone who supposedly has a degree from Columbia Law School, and Kate comes off as not merely vulnerable, but hopelessly desperate. The rest of the cast members – including hourglass-figured rapper Nicki Minaj as Carly’s gossipy assistant – fill out the physical attributes of their roles quite nicely, with not much else required.

There are some scattered amusing moments, such as Kate’s prolonged hysteria when she first learns the truth about Carly. Yet by the end, The Other Woman resorts to some labored plot twists to generate a forced comeuppance, forgetting that the audience already knew how it was going to end up anyway.