MANILA - Set your phasers to stun before coming to watch "The Other Woman", the new movie starring Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton.
The movie sets a very low bar for hilarity based on the trailer but is actually halfway decent, at least for the first half of the movie. Somewhere in "The Other Woman" is actually a good story waiting to be told before it sinks under a morass of Hollywood revenge-plot cliches. Director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) does romance well, but he's a lightweight when it comes to comedy.
"The Other Woman" is the story of lawyer Carly (Diaz) who is dating sleazy boyfriend Mark, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Carly discovers that Mark is actually married to Kate (Mann) and the two (Carly and Kate) strike up an unlikely friendship before discovering that Mark is dating another woman, Amber (Upton). The three hit it off, take revenge on Mark and live happily ever after, que sera sera.
Diaz gets top billing for this movie but it is Mann who steals it from her co-stars. Kate is a woman derailed by the knowledge that her seemingly perfect husband is cheating on her. Kate's first scenes with Carly, when she shows up at Carly's office and home, do not come off as cutesy or trying hard funny. In any other movie or TV series, a confrontation scene between the wife and the mistress devolves into hysterics but Mann plays it with slow, unraveling uncertainty. She also gets to drop some seriously funny lines like when she finds out that Carly has had sex with Mark at least 50 times.
"Do you even have a job? Does this mean Mark wasn't preparing for the marathon?"
Diaz plays Carly, the alpha woman who realizes that she might become a home-wrecker and wants none of it. While not as funny as Mann, Diaz still makes a go of it through her own willingness to be the butt of the joke. There is a funny scene when Carly becomes extremely jealous of the new mistress, Amber, and half of the enjoyment is seeing Diaz, the former Charlie's Angel, seeing the rise of a possible new, younger female lead. At times, the camera seems to deliberately keep Upton out of a scene because she just steals the oxygen (and the spotlight) from her two co-stars. Too bad she seems to have the acting ability of wallpaper.
The story snaps all logic when the three become friends. It sinks even further with the teeth-gritting revenge plots against Mark (laxatives, estrogen shots, etc). The movie falls apart at around the 1:15 minute mark, which is when I checked my watch when the nuttiness started to grate on my nerves. The second half fails to keep up the uncertainty of the first; before Amber shows up, the story could have kept going with the Carly-Kate friendship and still made a decent movie. As it stands, the only thing it delivers is the promise of the trailer - unfunny in a by-the-numbers, sometimes cruel way.
"The Other Woman" could actually be remade as a funny version of ABS-CBN's hit drama series "The Legal Wife." Just substitute maybe Pokwang for Angel Locsin's character, keep everybody else and you're good to go. For the second mistress, add Cristine Reyes. Joel Torre could be the dad, Melai could be the Nicky Minaj character, etc. And then, they could do English versions of the Legal Wife's lines:
"Masarap ba ang asawa ko? Sabihin mo, masarap ba? (Was my husband yummy? Tell me, was he yummy?)"
"Paano mo siya nilandi? Ano una mong tinanggal? Yang bra mo? Yang panty mo? O yang konsensiya mo? (How did you seduce him? What did you remove first? Your bra? Your panty? Or your conscience?)"