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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

The Other Woman review: sex and the infidelity

The Other Woman red light

We need an equivalent term to “Uncle Tom” for a woman — in this case, screenwriter Melissa Stack — who participates in Hollywood’s systematic hatred of women.
I’m “biast” (pro): no — just, no

I’m “biast” (con): in almost every possible way

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s so awesome when you learn that your apparently amazing new boyfriend is married. Or when you learn that your husband, for whom you gave up your own career and the possibility of children in order to support his work, is cheating on you. Or when you learn that your amazing new boyfriend is married and that his wife and “mistress” are plotting revenge against the cheating louse. All of this happens to, respectively, high-powered lawyer Carly (Cameron Diaz), supportive housewife Kate (Leslie Mann), and… well, walking boobs Amber (Kate Upton). It’s allegedly awesome because you end up with new BFFs and fab getaways to the Hamptons and the Bahamas so you can spy on him in order to formulate your plans for taking him down.

The cheating louse is Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Game of Thrones, Oblivion), and The Other Woman is so desperately terrible that I actually started to feel a little bit sorry for him at one point, even though he deserves whatever comeuppance might be coming his way. (You agree to an open marriage? Fine. But that is not the case with Kate and Mark, and he lied about his availability to Carly and Amber, and lying to your intimate partners at every turn is an enormous no-no.) Alas, the multifarious comeuppance he is asking for — for crimes beyond the romantic and into the financial — are not forthcoming to the degree they should be. (One character even says, flat out, that he is being saved from the fate he has earned for [bullshit reason redacted so as not to spoil].) So I mostly ended up angry at the movie for unconscionably skimping on the revenge in favor of the phony female bonding masquerading as, unforgivably, Girl Power and even Empowerment.

Fuck me — fuck all us actual adult women — that 41-year-old Cameron Diaz (The Counsellor, In a World…) and 41-year-old Leslie Mann (Rio 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman) are still considered “girls” who need powering up, as if they were playing Super Mario Brothers or something.

This movie is cruel to the women it is supposedly all you-go-girl about. Carly is called a “ruthless law robot” by her assistant (Nicki Minaj: Ice Age: Continental Drift), but all we see is a woman devoted to her work… until she has to ask her creepy dad (Don Johnson: Django Unchained, Machete) about legal matters, because WTF. Carly also learns to “change” because Mark was such a jerk, but we never see how she is doing anything wrong; she didn’t know Mark was married and she doesn’t do married men (even though her assistant points out that married men might suit her lifestyle). Kate is, by the end of the film, someone we’re supposed to see as smart and capable, but even she demeans herself over the course of the story as someone who needs to go to “brain camp” because she can’t understand the papers her husband is constantly shoving in front of her to sign (and it’s hard to imagine, when we later learn what all those papers are, that she couldn’t have had an inkling of what she was signing). Upton’s (The Three Stooges, Tower Heist) Amber never has anything to offer beyond her boobs. Which is just mean and demeaning, and for no good reason, unless you think at least some women are stupid fembot sex toys.

The Other Woman was written by a woman, or at least by someone using a female pseudonym: Melissa Stack. As I’ve said before in reference to this movie, we need an equivalent term to “Uncle Tom” for a woman who participates in Hollywood’s systematic hatred of women.

Men are hated on, too, in a gendered way, as we would expect from a story that trades in the most egregious gender stereotypes: Mark is “humiliated” via the surreptitious slipping of some female hormones — this is part of the “revenge,” a subplot dropped by the script as quickly as it is picked up — which is allegedly hilarious for the feminizing affect it has on his body. I guess women are awesome and powerful until being “womanly” is a joke and an insult.

Another bodily attack that Mark comes under is something you’ve seen a hundred times before, and isn’t funny unless you’re still in the process of potty-training. But if repetitious grossout isn’t enough to entice you, there’s also some pointless idiotic slapstick that has no connection to what passes for a plot here.

I like the women starring in this movie. They have appealing chemistry together. I hate that this movie treats them like cartoon characters. I know it’s supposed to be a comedy… but why do movies meant to be appreciated by grownups act like grownups don’t actually exist?


The Other Woman (2014)
US/Can release: Apr 25 2014
UK/Ire release: Apr 23 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated HHW (Hollywood hates women)
MPAA: rated PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, sexual references and language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains infrequent strong language, moderate sex references)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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