Movie Review: ‘The Other Woman’ is no fun

“The Other Woman,” the first produced screenplay by writer Melissa Stack feels a lot like a first draft, a mess of poorly placed jokes and contradictory themes of female empowerment.

It’s hard to imagine that this was the vision the once-blacklisted screenwriter had after being optioned by 20th Century Fox for this female-driven revenge comedy. This wildly uneven film can’t make heads or tails of what it wants to be – either the story of a woman overcoming obstacles in her life to better herself, as in the first half, or what it becomes in the second half, an outrageous gross-out revenge comedy.

In the opening moments of the film we find Carly Whitten, a highly successful and strong-minded attorney (Cameron Diaz), falling into Mark King’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) trap. Unknown to her, Mark is a married man, and she’s “clearing the bench” for him, as she puts it to her assistant, Lydia (in a nausea-inducing cameo from Nicki Minaj).

In a film where the female characters are dumb, and the male characters are dumber, Cameron Diaz’s take on Carly – a lady who puts herself first, cuts her losses and moves on – is refreshing.

In an attempt to surprise Mark at home, Carly abruptly finds his wife, Kate King (Leslie Mann) at the door, and in the film’s first real attempt at humor, Carly practically launches herself off the porch landing into the bushes.

This should give you an indication of the cheap laughs director Nick Cassavetes tries to pull from his audience. And they get worse.

Kate is hysterical and unable to cope with the news of Mark’s betrayal, she befriends her husband’s mistress trying to get every detail out of Carly about their affair. Over the course of the next act, Mann uses every attempt to exploit her character’s misery for laughs.

The two soon discover there is another “other woman,” Amber (Kate Upton), whose sole purpose is apparently to be attractive. They soon warn her of Mark’s ways and the three together plan revenge.

At one point Kate’s brother Phil comes into the picture. Phil serves no purpose other than even further embedding into our head what a scumbag her sister’s husband is, and to give Cameron Diaz a romantic interest (how could they not?). As contrived as Carly and Phil’s relationship is, the screenplay doesn’t actually go anywhere with it … That is, until they get to explain what happens to them via text, at the conclusion of the film.

The three women basically torture Mark by attempting to sabotage any potential hookups he might encounter. In one scene, while eating dinner with him, Carly slips a laxative in his drink, and we get to spend some time watching him crap himself in the bathroom. This is not the film’s only poop joke. Other attempts of sabotage involve him growing breasts and losing his hair.

Turns out it is not enough for Mark, because he’s apparently a criminal too (Keep in mind, Carly is a prominent attorney). The final act becomes bogged down further, and leads to a train wreck of a conclusion that finally requires Coster-Waldau to show up and act out a scene.

So much could be forgiven though, if “The Other Woman” managed to at least entertain; but it drags in large stretches and relies too heavily on cheap gags.

Stack currently is teaming up with Paul Feig, director of “Bridesmaids” (a much better film than this), on another female-driven comedy at 20th Century Fox – let’s hope that one turns out a little better.

1 star out of 4.

Rated PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, sexual references and language.