At a certain point in nearly every movie career, actors start repeating themselves. And we’re not just talking about sequels, three-quels and remakes here, folks. No, what we’re talking about are those times when actors appear in carbon copies of other movies they’ve already made.
Of course, the only true differences there are between the supposed “original” and the subsequent, all-too-familiar and all-too-derivative later movies would be the character names and titles.
The latest, but certainly not the last of this bunch is former “superstar” actress Cameron Diaz, whose status has apparently fallen to such a point that she now finds herself in things like The Other Woman, an alleged “romantic” comedy that swipes shamelessly from her earlier hits, among them She’s the One (1996), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) and The Sweetest Thing (2002).
Like them or not, at least those films had a relaxed, likable charm to them. This film, on the other hand, seems so desperate for laughs that you can practically see the flop sweat appear on its performers as they flail from one obnoxiously, uncomfortable scene to the next.
That’s especially true to Diaz, who stars as the title character, Carly Whitten. She’s head over whatever for Mark King (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau), who appears to be the perfect guy. That is, until she discovers he’s married.
In a rage, Carly vows revenge on Mark’s wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), to whom his infidelity comes as quite a shock. But then something funny happens – well, so to speak for this dud of a movie: The two women bond and quickly become “besties.” And together, they decide to turn their baneful gazes and even-more-baneful actions towards the man who unknowingly pitted them against each other.
Further complicating things: They discover Mark has yet another mistress, Amber (Kate Upton). As clueless as she is beautiful, Amber may be the pawn they need to get Mark to own up to his cheating ways and get some much-needed closure in the process.
You do have to give the film one thing: Diaz and Mann (Mrs. Judd Apatow) are around the same age, and would seem to be a good pairing as cinematic pals. But as talented and funny as both of them can be in the right material (see Mann’s appearances in her husband’s movies for evidence), there’s just not much to work with here.
The script comes courtesy Melissa Stack, a newcomer who clearly believes the best kind of humor is embarrassment and misunderstanding humor, the kind of comedy practiced in television classics like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. However, once these jokes start failing, she and director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, My Sister’s Keeper) fall back on sexual and other crudities. If you thought the aforementioned The Sweetest Thing got crass, you haven’t seen anything yet.
And comedy – at least this kind of comedy – clearly isn’t Cassavetes’ strong suit. The slapstick moments in particular, are done in such ham-fisted fashion that they deserve a laugh track … or maybe even a rim shot.
So again, give Diaz and Mann some props for trying to elevate this material through sheer effort. The rest of the cast, though, seems to be going through the motion, particularly Coster-Waldau (HBO’s Game of Thrones). Talentless model-turned-supposed-actress Upton is an irritant, as is noxious musician Nikki Minaj, there simply so the film’s cast has more “names” in it.
Jeff Michael Vice can also be read reviewing comics and television for Big Shiny Robot! (www.bigshinyrobot.com), be heard reviewing films, television programs, comics, books, music and other things as part of The Geek Show Podcast (www.thegeekshowpodcast.com), and be seen reviewing films as part of Xfinity’s Big Movie Mouth-Off (www.facebook.com/BigMovieMouthOff).