I know what you’re thinking: She has lost her mind. There’s no way that comedy about the women who seek revenge on the good-looking guy who wrongs them can actually be entertaining. We’ve seen it a million times! Plus we’re still pretty annoyed with Leslie Mann after This is 40, even if that was mostly her husband’s fault.
The Other Woman, though, is definitely funny. Goofy, ridiculous, with more gross-out humor than is strictly necessary but still funny. It falls into the category of Girlfriend Films — as in, go with your girlfriends and leave your date/partner/spouse at home with the PlayStation or the NBA playoffs or the new Malcolm Gladwell book. If you drink, have a glass of wine first. And you will laugh.
Cameron Diaz, who gets more compliments for her hot body than her extraordinary gift for physical comedy, stars as Carly, a Manhattan attorney who finally has shed her stable of boyfriends for new guy Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, most recently seen doing something unspeakable to his sister on Game of Thrones). Mark is handsome, charming, thoughtful, smart — and married, which Carly discovers after an impromptu visit to his Connecticut home in full slutty plumber gear. His wife, Kate (Mann), answers the door, and after a frantic, bumbling explanation and a snapped high heel, Carly makes her escape.
But she doesn’t escape, really, because Kate, undone at the realization her perfect husband is a philanderer, starts stalking Carly, showing up at her office and apartment with her Great Dane puppy in tow. The dog is a distraction and not particularly amusing, but Mann’s constant weeping and ebb-and-flow hysteria is a thing of beauty.
An impatient but inwardly guilty Carly grudgingly bears Kate’s clingy ways — literally, as the needy, unraveling Kate is constantly grabbing her and hugging her and trying to climb her like she’s a tree. But gradually the women become friends, and they grow even closer when they discover Mark is seeing a third woman. What happens when they follow him to the Hamptons and spy her in person — she’s played by supermodel Kate Upton, whose white bikini scene may end up the stuff of movie legend — results in one of funniest scenes I’ve seen this year. (“I’m glad she’s hot. She brings up our group average,” the suddenly practical Kate assures the now-furious Carly.)
The women do get around to terrorizing Mark, like the trailers suggest, but that happens later than you expect. Watching them sneak estrogen into his power shakes and laxatives into his Scotch is amusing, but the best scenes happen with Mark offstage, with Diaz’s channeling her power bitch moves and pratfalling, and Mann trying to “cry on the inside” and failing miserably. Their interplay has an improvisational feel, but it’s never slapdash or sloppy. And this is not to say Coster-Waldau doesn’t get his own comic moments, during a bad night in the men’s room and at the eventual confrontation with his former lovers.
The Other Woman even gets the comic cliches right. Don Johnson gets a few laughs as Carly’s louche father, and Nicki Minaj brings a snappy vibe to the role of Sassy Black Assistant. Even Taylor Kinney arriving in the form of Kate’s conveniently good-looking single brother doesn’t derail the movie from its delightful girl power objective.
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton, Don Johnson, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj.
Director: Nick Cassavetes.
Screenwriter: Melissa Stack.
Producers: Julie Yorn.
A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 109 minutes. Mature thematic material, sexual references and language. Opens Friday April 25 at area theaters.