A Comedic Debutante Ball for Leslie Mann
Talk about an underrated actress? Talk about a tour de force? Ladies and gentlemen, Leslie Mann has arrived!
An under-used comedic powerhouse, Mann has heretofore been eclipsed by her comedic-dynasty husband, Judd Apatow.
No more. While the mediocre, cheating-husband farce “The Other Woman” is not overly special, Leslie Mann certainly is. A star is born? Hope so. She deserves it.
A new comic duo is also born. Teaming up with established comedy-heavyweight Cameron Diaz in the straight-man role (straight man is the acting term for the earnest one in a comedy duo), Mann and Diaz are a serious funny-team. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is a Big Apple lawyer in a passionate romance. Celebrating their eighth-week “anniversary,” she suggests to lover Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that he meet her dad (Don Johnson). Uh-oh.
Mark avoids meeting dad. Continually. Why? He’s married of course. She finds out and cuts him off at the knees. She’s a tough lady.
Mark’s nonworking wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), is an apparent ditz who feels she should go to “brain camp,” and take the memory herb “Ginko Balboa.” Mark: “No honey, it’s ‘Ginko Bi-lo-ba.’ It’s not the Rocky movie.”
When Kate’s heaven and earth get turned upside down overnight by Mark’s cheating, she stalks Carly for answers.
At first, Carly’s not having it. But soon they’re deep into a … what’s the opposite of a bromance? A “she-mance”? “Chickmance”? Whatever. They bond. What else?
And so begins the classic situation: While the man is off philandering with impunity, the womenfolk pool their intuitive talents and smoke him out.
Oh, wait a minute—wouldn’t you know it? There’s yet another mistress. That would be 22-year-old Amber (supermodel Kate Upton). Amber is recruited into a chickmance trio. You think hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Try three of them.
Out trot the standard cinematic female revenge methods. What’s on the girls’ “Cheater Chore Calendar”? Laxatives, powdered estrogen in his coffee, Nair in the shampoo bottle, toothbrush as toilet brush. All of which are a prelude to some serious damage involving Mark’s ill-gotten financial Bahamian holdings.
Rapper Nicki Minaj as Carly’s secretary not so much acts as scene-steals. And not so much scene-steals as rips-off by sheer force of personality.
Coster-Waldau, as bad husband and startup financier Mark, is a Denis Leary lookalike. While he looks the part of the classic rake, he also manifests a decent talent for “taking the hit.”
Normally it’s hard for the good-lookers to look foolish. However, the scene where a particularly heinous form of feminine torture necessitates Mark to ditch his Armani suit-pants on a bathroom floor, and arrive home wearing a pair of skinny jeans, is a sidesplitting howler.
Not to mention the manic clutching at the last vestiges of his dignity in a towering (and very satisfying) crash and burn à la “The First Wives Club.”
Ultimately, though, “The Other Woman” showcases Leslie Mann. What’s her comedy forte? She wallows in the throes of humiliation like nobody’s business. She anchors us in the reality and then extends it way over the top. That’s great comedy. She also plays a mean drunk.
Normally in the clown role, Diaz holds down the fort as straight-woman while Mann clowns. Diaz and Mann are the new Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. So what if the latter two only did one movie together? We’ll be seeing more of all four of them.
Voluptuous model Kate Upton, in her movie debut, isn’t much of an actress yet, but in a normally shallow-minded role, she can’t really be accused of much shallow-mindedness. She’s got something.
In fact, it’s this surprising believability that establishes the fact that the chickmance trio of The Law, The Holy Matrimony, and The Phenom Body (all blondes, by the way) can take down any fool man. Not a blonde joke in sight.
There needs to be an Oscar for most clichéd background music in a motion picture. The girls put on ninja costumes to spy. What gets played? The theme from “Mission Impossible”? Are you kidding? And that’s just for starters.
Other than that, “The Other Woman” is a fairly hilarious chickmance. You’ll laugh even if you don’t want to. Raise a glass to Leslie Mann. May there be many more movies featuring her.
‘The Other Woman’
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Nicky Minaj, Taylor Kinney
Run Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
3.5 stars out of 5