The Other Woman

Art & Culture

Excuse me while I squirm. If this is what Hollywood does to compensate for the fact that there aren't enough roles for women, then I wish they wouldn't make the effort. Cameron Diaz is the star, playing a woman who realises that her lover (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau from Game Of Thrones) is two-timing her, with his wife. An encounter with the wife (Leslie Mann) reveals that he has yet another woman on the go, and this one is even younger and hotter. So all three join forces to pay him back. Does it sound familiar? Does it sound cheesy? Does it sound sexist? Does it present both women and men in an absurd and unflattering light? Yes x 4.

There is something about Hollywood romcoms that makes me want to question the whole ethical and political basis on which mainstream American films are made. This particular genre seems to bring out the worst in scriptwriters and directors, leading to the lowest common denominator in a doomed attempt to appeal to the widest possible audience. 

Let's see what we have on offer. Exhibit 1. Cameron Diaz, still gamely doing an impersonation of a Fantastically Glamorous Woman after 20 years of following this path. She is a 40 year old lawyer – needless to say, an especially ubersuccessful lawyer – who dates men without any expectation or hope of long term commitment. Exhibit 2. Leslie Mann (definitely the best thing in the film) as a 40something wife who has given up her career to support her man. 3. Kate Upton (a 21 year old cover model) as the Hot Babe with Big Boobs (this is the film's message, not mine) and Small Brain. Can you see a single credible character between them? No, nor can I.

The object of their affections is a sleazebag, no other word for it. He smirks at these various women and none of them can resist his (imaginary) charm. What does that say about them? Not a great deal. And once they have discovered his multiple infidelities, their response is to gang up to bring him down. Unfortunately, this takes well over an hour and a half, a large part of which is spent in falling over things, breaking things, getting drunk, squabbling and generally behaving like braindead teenagers – all in the name of comedy.

At all times, they are required to be dressed up, made up, dolled up, and made as little like real women as possible. Every so often, they are tempted to fall back into the arms of the sleazebag, before regaining their feminist (ha!) equilibrium. Is it for this that women were imprisoned and force fed, nearly a century ago? So that the World of the Bimbo could rule. 

I like films in which women have the central roles – god knows, it's rare enough. And I'm OK with films like Bridesmaids, even though it's essentially a bloke movie for actors without dicks, because it is funny. Crude, yes, but funny. And I know that a lot of comedies have men making fools of themselves, but does mean that women have to follow that path? If films like In A World  can get made (even though nobody went to see it), then why do we have to have this kind of drivel.

At the risk of spoiling your enjoyment, at the end of the film, Cameron Diaz's fulfilment comes in the shape of Leslie Mann's brother, a spectacularly dull cross between Gerard Butler and Mark Ruffalo, with a baby inside her just to make sure we know what women really aspire to. Kate Upton is saddled with Don Johnson (Diaz's father), which is extremely creepy, while Leslie Mann is shown leading an implausibly successful career as a product designer.

Yes, I know this is romantic comedy, not documentary, but it's not funny, not romantic, not feminist, far too long, and altogether dumb. You could make a decent film with about 10 minutes of Leslie Mann in manic mode, but that's the limit. You have been warned.