In the new revenge comedy "The Other Woman," Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton play a trio of scorned women seeking to give their cheating mutual beau (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) his comeuppance. According to film critics, though, they would have been better off directing their ire at the movie itself, for its lazy cliches and pseudo-feminist slant.
The Times' Betsy Sharkey calls "The Other Woman" the "quintessential anti-date movie" — ironic, as it's directed by Nick Cassavetes, who did "The Notebook" — and says it's "out of control and intent on running down a certain kind of male."
She continues, "Slyness, slapstick and sex can often be mixed to amusing effect whatever the specifics — the original 'Hangover,' for example, did a credible job of it — but 'The Other Woman' is ultimately undone by its indecision. … Eventually the getting even and dumbing down gets tiresome. Somewhere along the way, 'The Other Woman' forgets how to have fun with a bad romance."
In a particularly scathing review, NPR's Linda Holmes describes the movie as "a conceptually odious, stupid-to-the-bone enterprise" and "the most grotesque pantomime of girl power."
Holmes adds, "It may also occur to you just how bad — how bad — it is that this is what we have to offer Mann and Diaz, who show themselves in these moments to be really able comic actresses: a story in which they play idiots with no interests of any kind except bickering over an utterly charmless man and then satisfying themselves that giving him explosive diarrhea and prominent nipples constitutes satisfying revenge for his having apparently robbed both of them of whatever souls and outside interests they once possessed."
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe agrees, writing, "'The Other Woman' is one of those loud, cringe-y female-empowerment comedies that feels like it was made by people who hate women. It's about a trio of heroines who free themselves from their three-timing man by obsessing about him constantly and plotting revenge with laxatives in his cocktails and Nair in his shampoo." Burr adds, "It's as though [the filmmakers] conspired to come up with a movie specifically designed to flunk the Bechdel Test: 109 minutes in which the women do nothing but talk about a man."
The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday calls "The Other Woman" an "unpromising screenwriting debut" for Melissa Stack that "seems to have been cobbled together from any number of other, not necessarily better, movies, resulting in a tonal mish-mash of scatology, physically contorting pratfalls and, only occasionally, genuinely observant behavioral comedy."
Stephen Holden of the New York Times also finds the film overly familiar. He writes, "This female revenge comedy is so dumb, lazy, clumsily assembled and unoriginal, it could crush any actor forced to execute its leaden slapstick gags and mouth its crude, humorless dialogue." Eventually, "'The Other Woman' settles into being a rip-off of the infinitely superior but still minor 'First Wives Club.'"
Not every critic has panned the film. The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle, for example, says it's "Far from a silly romance" and finds Mann "in her deepest and funniest role to date."
He continues, "Written on the knife edge between farce and naturalism … it's directed with precision and balance by Nick Cassavetes and put over expertly by the cast. The advertisements might look dumb, but the movie isn't."