In 1980, for those of you too young to remember, there was a great movie called 9 to 5 about three disgruntled secretaries who teamed up to kidnap and humiliate their sexist pig boss. It was funny and felt empowering at the time: Women were just beginning to understand that sexual harassment in the workplace was unacceptable. (Also, people were still using the word “secretary”.)
Now, 34 years later, we have Nick Cassavetes’s The Other Woman, which would’ve felt empowering, too—in 1980.
In this film, go-to married-lady-actress Leslie Mann plays Kate, who discovers that her handsome hubbie Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldou, from Game of Thrones) is having an affair with a high-powered lawyer named Carly (Cameron Diaz). They team up to spy on him and find out that he’s cheating on both of them with the nubile Amber (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton).
It’s supposed to be feminist (I guess?) that the three women work together, and don’t claw each other’s eyes out. And it’s supposed to be cathartic to see the cad get his comeuppance by the end (okay, this part is somewhat true: Did any of you guys watch Game of Thrones last week?). But the fact is, each of these women is still defined by her relationship to Mark. He is the cynosure of their lives, the focus of their scheming, and the reason they’ve all come together. What’s more, they’re all stereotypes: Kate is the slightly boring Lilly-Pulitzer-clad wife; Carly is the sexy, corporate shark in a lace thong under her power suit; and Amber is the sweet, clueless blonde.
Feminist politics aside, the film’s sense of humor can best be illustrated by Kate’s dog, a spotted Great Dane she has a tendency to drag around into inappropriate places. You see, a big dog is funny. A super big dog? Funnier.
Yes, The Other Woman can be funny—at times, very. One particular scene— on a stakeout, Kate and Carly attempt to explain their presence in a shrub to passing security guards by pretending to do yoga (trust me, it’s funny)—left my audience howling with laughter. And while I do wish that Leslie Mann could break out of her “put upon wife” role (it’s like filmmakers can’t see beyond the fact that she’s married to Judd Apatow in real life), she does comic meltdowns better than just about any actress in the biz. Also, Nicki Minaj has a memorably feisty turn as Carly’s tell-it-like-it-is assistant.
That being said, there’s not a single joke the film doesn’t milk to death. (Those comic meltdowns I mentioned? Kate has at least four of them.) It’s not above potty humor, either. One graphic scene takes place entirely in a toilet stall. And naturally, where there are giant dogs there are giant—well . . . sigh . . .you get the picture.