If The Other Woman is a box-office hit, I’m going to have to top myself

This film is wholly unfunny, and also wholly reprehensible

26 April 2014

9:00 AM

26 April 2014

9:00 AM

The Other Woman

12A, Nationwide

The Other Woman is not just an extremely bad film but also a wholly reprehensible one (she says, with her most disapproving hat on). It’s a comedy, although if you find any of it funny, that’s all I will ever need to know about you, but its unfunniness isn’t what upsets me so much. It’s the dishonesty. It’s being sold as a film that ‘celebrates female friendships’ and ‘is absolutely a feminist movie’ (Cameron Diaz) even though it is an insult to all women everywhere from beginning to end. Who doesn’t realise this? Do they expect us not to realise this? I sincerely hope it flops and won’t attract an audience but, if it does, that may well be all I need to know about humankind, and I’ll just have to throw myself from a bridge or something.

The basic set-up involves three women who plot revenge on the man who is cheating on them all. The three women are Carly (Cameron Diaz), Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton). The opening credits unfold with a montage of Carly and her new boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) enjoying a number of romantic dates. He is, she thinks, the perfect man (at last! Yay! Life is worth living!) but it all crashes when she turns up at his house unannounced and, in his absence, meets his wife Kate. Kate may be the most annoying character ever. She is shrill and useless and hysterical, but not hysterical ha-ha. She is intended as the main comic character, but is about as funny as banging your elbow really hard on a door jamb while suffering from a tooth abscess and also something nasty picked up in Africa, like malaria.

She turns up at Carly’s work and at her home, crying and whining. At no point does Carly sit her down and say: ‘Honey, shouldn’t you be discussing this with your shit of a husband, who is also a dickhead, by the way?’ Instead, they bond (sigh) along with Amber, Mark’s other mistress, who serves no proper function, except to run along a beach in slo-mo, once in a skimpy bikini and once in a skimpy bikini strung with small fluffy white pompoms. I saw this with my own undeluded eyes. Meanwhile, Ms Diaz is required to do little more than look super in a series of lovely outfits and wake in the mornings in full make-up. What has happened to her career? It’s as if she’s taken the opposite trajectory to Matthew McConaughey, who went from stud muffin to Oscar winner, while she has gone from Being John Malkovich to this. I don’t know the form, but might they have waved as they passed? Did she do sad face but then point at the cheque, and do happy face?

At no point does this film assume anyone in the audience is other than totally thick. Leaving aside the continuity issues — no cardigan in one shot, cardigan on in the next, etc. — wouldn’t you assume that Carly, who is meant to be a top lawyer, would have Googled Mark, who is meant to be a top start-up entrepreneur, on meeting him? Thereby discovering he was married? Are we meant to believe Carly is a lawyer when we never see her doing any actual lawyering? As written by Melissa Stack (who should be sent to bed with no supper) and directed by Nick Cassavetes (son of John, can you believe), the humour, just so you know, involves furtive use of laxatives with explosive results, and a script that contains lines like: ‘I’ve had more ass than a toilet seat.’ At the screening I attended, one sole man did laugh at that, and I would have turned round and given him the eye, had I not already decided I did not want to know him.

But leaving aside the continuity and the humour and the necessary suspensions of disbelief and the script and even the clichéd direction — the theme tune to Mission Impossible plays when the trio embark on a spy mission — it’s the characters that are so offensive. This fails the Bechdel test (look it up) at every turn, without exception. There is even a fourth woman, Carly’s secretary, so you’d think Carly might ask her to retrieve a file, or even fetch a latte but, no, they talk exclusively about men. And as for the ending, when two of the women find their ideal mate, one of whom is a serial adulterer, this is ‘absolutely feminist’ — how? This celebrates the sisterhood — how? These women are the female versions of Uncle Toms, whatever they might be. Aunt Tomasinas? But that’s not my biggest worry. My biggest worry is this: if it’s a box-office hit, I’m going to have to top myself. Seriously.

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Show comments
  • transponder

    What kind of woman is called Cameron? I suppose it’s better than Gladys or Gertrude, but not much.

    • oldestel

      My mother’s name was Gladys, if you don’t mind – She answered to Glad and Gladdie as well, but it was definitely Gladys when she was feeling formal about things.
      See, you provoked me into returning to the fray.

      • transponder

        Aha! Well I’m very gladdie to see you. : )

    • little islander

      she’s not wasted on movies. i enjoy her reviews, whether or not i saw the movies, dross or not. i don’t miss mark steyn’s, no disrespect intended.

      • transponder

        I can only speak for myself, but ‘she reviewed bad things well and frivolous things earnestly’ is not really what I’d want for an epitaph.

        • little islander

          ‘so.not.pompous.’ In other words?

  • La Fold

    If that makes you want to top yourself, never watch any soap opera then! Ive ben forced to sit through that swill on many an occassion (monday nights were the worst, there was about 2 1/2 hours of it non stop)
    All the men in soap operas are either functioning imbeciles or psychotic gangsters and all women are victims of the psychotic gangsters but end up sleeping with them anyway. Also if the female character is “strong” all it means is she shouts a lot and slags off men.
    Crack for the soul.

  • Adam Schwartz

    Ms. Ross, please don’t top yourself over this terrible movie–too many of your readers enjoy your reviews. Besides, many terrible movies have been highly praised in the press. I still can’t understand, for example, why the ponderous bore “2001: A Space Odyssey” is considered a masterpiece.

    • rob232

      Because you never saw it at the cinema. It’s a movie I really enjoyed on the big screen but I have never been able to put up with more than twenty minutes of it on TV.

      • Adam Schwartz

        That’s where we saw it, in a movie theater. No matter where you see it, the film is tedious, empty, and pretentious–a monument to Kubrick’s ego.

  • Thomas Hodgkinson

    brilliant. thank you

  • meme

    This review is ridiculous! Get a grip it’s just a film. We don’t need to see Cameron at work to believe she is a lawyer besides if you did actually watch the film you would have seen she did act more like a ‘lawyer’ when she helped his wife take control of everything that was in her name. Anyway I watched this and laughed out loud not because I am simple minded but because it was entertaining and sorry to deflate your perception of humankind but the cinema was packed and everyone was laughing throughout. Perhaps that bridge is better for you.

  • thisisluke

    The above review is jsut wrong. The Bechdel test … is simply asks the question do women in the film have a discussion with each other that is not about a man. Deborah is simply wrong and as a jounalist perhaps whould have looked it up herself. Two of the women discuss shoes, another womans clothes, choice of drinks, and one of their financial arrangements, how the friendship their friendship will go…to name but a few…it easily passes the test.

    At no point does Carly sit her down and say: ‘Honey, shouldn’t you be
    discussing this with your shit of a husband, who is also a dickhead, by
    the way?’

    Actually outside the office block thats EXACTLY what she says to her. Wrong again Deborah.

    Deborah ‘At the screening I attended, one sole man did laugh at that, and I would have turned round and given him the eye’ saw the film twice and on both occasions the place was in uproar with laughter.

    As for throwing yourself off a bridge, why not try a different job, as I suspect for this one a necessity you should be at least be checking the facts.

  • Advocatus_Diaboli_69

    At no point does this film assume anyone in the audience is other than totally thick.

    That’s why films like these take money at the box office.