Making the Grades
Leslie Mann plays Kate King, a woman who appears to sit at home in a Connecticut suburb waiting for her wealthy, Manhattan-commuting husband Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to make an occasional guest appearance. He’s off travelling the world on business… or at least that’s what she thinks.
Likewise so does Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz), a hotshot lawyer in a high-rise corner office that has been enjoying a sexually satisfying relationship with Mark for the past couple of months. Yes, it is the same Mark who is married to Kate. Yet unlike the passive Kate, the proactive Carly decides to surprise the man she believes to be single with a visit when he has to make another sudden trip out of town to fix a leaky water pipe at home. Showing up in a costume that looks less like a plumber and more like a stripper holding a plunger, both she and Kate are surprised when they meet at the front door.
The initial encounter between these two women, who share only one thing in common, is understandably awkward. However the second rendezvous, when Kate tracks Carly down at her New York office, is downright strange. The eventual alliance/friendship that forms between them is the start of a quest for sweet revenge. Imagine their surprise when they discover a third confederate named Amber (Kate Upton), a brainless, blonde bombshell clothed in a white bikini (and cut from the Hollywood stereotype scrapbook).
Recognizing their common enemy, the three amigos rant, drink, scream, drink, wrestle, drink some more and eventually cobble together a plan with the hopes of inflicting on Mark some of the pain they have endured. Still, the madcap scheme really only amounts to a series of embarrassing stunts such as dropping a laxative into his drink, lacing his shampoo with hair removal cream and secretly feeding him prescription estrogen. It’s not until Carly begins digging deeper into Mark’s history (something this “intelligent” attorney should have done after the first date) and discovers a serious issue of business ethics, which could drag Kate into prison, that these women truly get serious about literally making their man pay.
This movie is girl-power from the get go. However the irony is the many moments of female objectification used by male director Nick Cassavetes (well known for other female focused movies like The Notebook) to keep men in the audience reasonably engaged. Because they might otherwise be squirming in their seats, Cassavetes gives Upton a lot of screen time, having her appear in not one but two white bikinis (the second featuring… pom-poms?!) and a variety of other boredom busting outfits. A frequently scantily clad Diaz joins in this embellishment. As well, the trio is often engaged in tussles that attempt to fulfill the “girl fight” fantasy, which is far too prevalent in suggestive entertainment.
Alcohol is another disturbing factor in this film. Kate’s character doesn’t simply have a drink to relax, but increases her dependence on booze as a way to deal with her problems. She is often joined in her inebriated state by Carly. While these intoxicated interludes are intended to create comedy, they provide a poor example of coping strategies in a script cluttered with people suffering with serious life challenges.
An impotent placebo for feminine empowerment, this film teaches a simple concept: Being a lout isn’t a goal only men can aspire to. According to this story, women can enjoy diving into the realm of drunken revenge, contention and recreational sex with just as much ease as men. Rather than taking the higher road (and, obviously, sacrificing the conflict and “comedy” required to make a popular film script) these moviemakers instead join the so-called “battle of the sexes” by sinking to juvenile jokes and deceitful revenge.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Other Woman.
All too often movies smell more of marketing than art. Like any product on the store shelf, a film needs a target audience and too often the promotional angle takes priority during the creative process. What group do you think was in the crosshairs of this production? What kind of script would you use to reach female’s susceptible to a midlife crisis? What would you include to attract males viewers to such a movie?
Carly (played by Cameron Diaz) has a secretary (Nicki Minaj) that is full of advice for her boss. What do you think about her defense of adulterous relationships? How about her statement that being pretty means you shouldn’t have to work so hard? Or her assertion that selfish people live longer? Meanwhile Carly believes that every relationship fails eventually? What life experiences do you think these two women have had that contribute to their points of view?