[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00JVSF0T8][/pullquote] The Bechdel test asks whether a film is gender biased by using 3 simple rules. 1. Does it have two named female characters? 2. Do they talk to each other? 3. Do they talk about anything other than a man. Many Hollywood films fail the test, but those that succeed have historically performed better at the box office in comparison to their budgets. You would imagine that The Other Woman, which boasts not one, but three central female characters and is about the empowerment of women would well pass this test. You would imagine wrong.
Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a no-nonsense New York lawyer. She meets a charming man called Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and a relationship ensures. When Mark is called away to Conneticut on business Carly, on the suggestion of her life-loving father (Don Johnson), goes to surprise him only to discover he is already married to neurotic housewife Kate (Leslie Mann). The two become friends and become three following the discovery of a second affair with young-but-ditsy Amber (Kate Upton). This new coalition of Mark’s lovers set about creating a plot for revenge on the man who has treated them so badly.
The central idea about female friendship, competition and conflict has plenty of scope for a great comedy-drama, but what the audience is treated to in The Other Woman is a shallow, vacuous affair riddled with low-brow fart gags. The film has decided to pitch itself as an out-and-out comedy, you know the type, the posters inevitably have famous people pulling silly faces and the typeface is always red on a white background. But for a comedy of this nature there is precious little to actually laugh about. There are, if we’re being generous, 3 moments that will make you laugh, the rest is made up with endless, probably ad-libbed conversations. These are the type of conversations that never actually happen, but Hollywood imagines do.
The cast are uniformly bad, with Mann bringing her trademark irritating chatter, while the normally underappreciated Diaz has almost nothing to work with in terms of script quality. A little more nuance would have allowed her ice queen caricature to really breath and bring some pathos, as it is, she’s unlikable. Rounding out the central trio is Kate Upton, who proves rather impressively that she is not an actress.
Somewhere within the depths of the script is a really good drama about the treatment of women and the modern dating game. Sadly it’s silenced by endless cheap jokes and sub-standard pratfalls.