The philandering husband has long been a staple of TV soap operas and probably every other show that has ever been broadcast on cable’s Lifetime Network.
Film studios have generally shied away from making spousal cheating a central focus of a film because it has been done so frequently on television. A notable exception was 1996’s witty comedy “The First Wives Club,” which starred Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler as the exes of successful men seeking revenge on their former husbands for ditching them for younger women.
It did extremely well at the box office, generating over $180 million in ticket sales. Its success disproved an old Hollywood axiom that films geared toward an older audience have limited appeal.
Based on the coming attractions, “The Other Woman” appeared to be following the blueprint of “The First Wives Club” to the letter. The idea of three women giving a scoundrel a taste of his own medicine was the central plot while three of the leads (Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) were north of 40 years old. Sadly “The Other Woman” lacks the wit and character development of its predecessor.
The film opens with high-powered New York attorney Carly Whitten (Diaz) enjoying a romantic dinner with venture capitalist Mark King (Coster-Waldau), a man she met two months ago and whom she wants to introduce to her dad.
When Mark has to break a date with Carly because of an alleged plumbing problem in his Connecticut home, she decides to surprise him by taking a limo to Greenwich. When she knocks on the door, Mark’s wife, Kate (Mann), answers. Quickly realizing that she has been dating a married man, Carly quickly excuses herself saying that she has the wrong address and vows never to speak to Mark again.
Kate, though coming off as gullible to the point of infantile, and pathetically needy even though she is intelligent, tracks Carly down through Mark’s cell phone. After some initial bickering, the tough-as-nails Carly bonds with the distraught Kate and vows to help her get what she deserves.
In a bid to differentiate itself from “First Wives Club,” screenwriter Melissa Stack has the villainous Mark “cheat” on both Kate and Carly as he wins the affections of Amber (SI swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton), a very attractive 20-something. When Kate and Carly get ahold of Amber and explain Mark’s modus operandi, she quickly joins them.
“The Other Woman” had the potential to be a worthy successor to “First Wives Club” but badly squandered the opportunity. Carly went to college at Cornell and graduated Columbia Law School. In spite of being gorgeous, she is a quintessential New York career woman who can’t seem to find the right guy. Rather than explore that angle, the filmmakers spend more time trying to fit in as much slapstick comedy as they can, as well as defecation and vomit humor that seemed to be leftovers from the script of “Bridesmaids.”
The uber-successful Mark King should have been a three-dimensional character but instead we get a cartoon-like villain. Coster-Waldau does the best that he can with him given the script’s limitations. Coster-Waldau is a dead ringer for fellow actor Aaron Eckhart, and you get the feeling that Eckhart’s agent wisely told him to pass on this junk.
Don Johnson has fun playing yet another Lothario, in this case, Carly’s five-times divorced dad who likes to score with women 40 years his junior. It’s funny; the film conveys the message that men who cheat on their wives are evil but there is something charming about a guy hitting on a girl who could be his granddaughter’s age as long as he is not married at the time.
The one performance truly worth noting is Queens’ own pop star Nicki Minaj’s wisecracking legal secretary. She is a beacon of light in this bloated 110-minute movie.