25 April 2014 | Clockwork-Avacado
The Lawyer, The Wife and The Boobs
Cameron Diaz is back in comedy, after her amazing turn in last year's "The Counselor", in which she finally nailed a solid, challenging dramatic performance. Now that she's back in the home territory, she would, one assumes, be able to do what she's been doing so well for almost twenty years. "The Other Woman" is really a two-header, between Diaz and Leslie Mann, as a standard straight-laced/ridiculous combination in the Laurell and Hardy vein, as two women unknowingly in love with the same man; Mann is his wife, Diaz is his casual fling, although she doesn't know it yet. When things finally come out, Kate's(Mann) world collapses, and she clings to Carly (Diaz) for help, and eventually, revenge. What neither of them are aware of, though, is that husband Mark, is his infidelity is pathological, and that Mark, far from being the desirable lover, is a worrying villain, who not only cheats in love, but is planning to cheat millions of dollars out of various businesses. Can the Lawyer, the Wife and The Boobs defeat his evil schemes in time? Actually, Nick Cassavettes new film is delightfully un-pretentious in its' presentation of good, relatively clean fun. Whilst this is not one of the most outstandingly memorable comedies you'll ever see in your life, it is an appealing, aesthetically pleasing 109 minutes of frothy, silly entertainment. It isn't all Biblical moping about, or CGI dominated video game super hero movies. It's a film about people - simple, bizarre comic archetypes, in a relatively competent script, that is just sufficiently lacking in structure to be fun, without being aimless. It's not especially laugh-out loud funny, again, but it mixes slapstick sequences, with sharp wit, and cringe-worthy monologues, courtesy of Leslie Mann, who is hilarious, and yet at times, so embarrassing it is hard to watch. But this is, thankfully, all in character - she plays a hopelessly devoted, and hopelessly stupid wife, whose enthusiasm is both cute and more importantly, the driving force behind the entire plot more or less. Feminists may criticise this character, as indeed they have, but without her, none of this film could have happened. And also; it's a comedy for god's sake. Of course she's silly. She's meant to be. This isn't a statement about what all women are like, the same way that Mark is not meant to represent an archetypal man. Grotesque stereotypes are what fuel all the best comedies, and this is no exception.
The balance between the three female leads is at times, uneven - Mann gets most of the gags, Diaz is playing essentially an exasperated "Straight Woman" to her incessant stream of breakdowns, and Upton plays perhaps an even more offensive stereotype (very well) of the dumb, sexy blonde. Whilst she isn't the best actress in the world, Upton's character actually has a lot of potential, which isn't quite fully exploited, when you finally get over the fact that you enjoyed the film better when it was just Diaz and Mann.
There are a few moments of rock-bottom crudity, which, depending on your tastes, will make or break the movie for you. Some work, and some don't, but on the whole, it is a love song to female friendships, about the importance of having friends you can rely on...over having a single meaningful relationship. Yes, it is a little cock-eyed, I'll grant you, but, allowing for the situation these characters are in, its' about the most positive message to be derived from the action. Mark is totally without redeeming features, which is a good thing in these days of moral apathy, and a light comedy is a strange place to find such a well defined sense of moral aesthetic, but at the end of the day, it is rather a "Sisters doing it for themselves" kind of film. And Mark is a worthy adversary for their curiously puerile revenge, which soon blossoms into something far more effective - A point a lot of critics who have criticised the film's "lack of realism", seem to have missed out on.
Their final revenge is definitely satisfying, although there are moments were the momentum rather sags, not soon after Kate Upton is introduced. This isn't Upton's fault - she actually has some of the best lines("She's not a whore - She's just a slut"), but there's no denying the film's finest moments are the horribly awkward "Let's be friends" chemistry between Diaz and Mann. However, the resolution is quite complex, and very well worked out - only, it's not exactly set up very well - although there's no denying that it is an effective climax. However, the final shots - freeze frames detailing the fates of each one of the three "Other Women", seems rather ill-conceived, and a more fully realised ending may have been nice, especially as it makes the rather perfunctory romantic sub-plots seem even more perfunctory. But then I suppose in a film about "Women Together", the idea of romantic fulfilment may see rather old-fashioned.
On the whole, then, Cameron Diaz is on cracking form, and may well be reaching a new pinnacle in her career, although its' more than likely that this will go down in history as a decent enough movie, not a classic.(Like "The Holiday")But Diaz seems even more comfortable at this age, sharper, funnier and more measured in her performances. Mann essentially makes 75% of the comedy in the film, and a nice sexy cameo from Nicki Minaj as Diaz's self-serving, empowered PA is a nice bonus- but it really doesn't make or break - she's on screen for maybe 4 and a half minutes in all. But, this is a piece of fun, and, in a rather turgid climate of grossly over-rated mainstream garbage, it's definitely an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.