Girl meets boy. Girl falls for boy. Girl meets boy’s wife.
That’s the simple premise for “The Other Woman,” a revenge fantasy/rom-com mash-up in which a lawyer (Cameron Diaz) teams up with her boyfriend’s wife (Leslie Mann) after discovering they’ve both been cheated on.
Diaz plays Carly, a single, successful lawyer in the city unmarried, whose been emotionally scarred by her romantic history and commitment-phobic father (Don Johnson).
Her “hook up now, ask questions later” approach to dating backfires after meeting the secretly-married Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”).
After their awkward run-in, Mark’s better half Kate (Mann) shows up at her place and, despite a great deal of resistance from the oddly-combative Carly, forges (or forces) a friendship.
The first half of the film is clever and breezy, and Mann’s portrayal of the emotionally-crumbling Kate is a joy to watch, particularly in a scene where her new pal unsuccessfully orders her to hold back her tears.
As Mann showed in the terrific “This Is 40,” she once again proved adept at instilling her comic characters with a surprising amount of heart. Diaz, meanwhile, is pitch perfect as the straight man to Mann’s oft-weepy character as they become unlikely drinking buddies and spy on Mark.
Supermodel Kate Upton is stunt-cast as his other mistress, not-so-bright Amber, and she appears to have mostly been hired for the extended slow-motion bikini scenes.
Her introduction – through no fault of her own – marks the start of the film’s decline, as the script quickly ditches Carly and Kate’s odd-couple surveillance.
That’s when the plot, like Kate’s mental health, slowly crumbles, introducing a scheme for sabotage against their common enemy so lazy and farcical that it feels stolen from a straight-to-video Olsen Twins movie (albeit an R-rated one).
More troubling, though, is that for a movie with three female leads and a sisters-before-misters vibe, the writers sadly appear content to characterize these women as “The Lawyer, The Wife and The Boobs,” as Diaz’s character not-so-eloquently puts it when planning their revenge.
Upton might not a very strong actor, but it’s nonetheless painful to watch another woman call her “The Boobs” of the operation to her face.
Overall, there were hints of greatness in the comedic pairing of Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, and the first half laid the groundwork for a funnier film than the finished product.
While it’s not a total wash, here’s hoping these talented actresses get the chance to work together soon on a project that doesn’t wind up feeling quite as half-baked.