REVIEW: The Other Woman

the-other-woman-2

The Other Woman
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Written by: Melissa Stack
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The Other Woman’s flaws are large and predictable, but though the movie is slight it is also slightly enjoyable.  It feels like an adult version of the forgettable 2006 teen comedy John Tucker Must Die, where high schoolers who are dating the same dude plot to destroy his life.

Here, two mistresses (Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton) and a wife (Leslie Mann) bond over a plan to take down the charming monster who is deceiving them all (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).   This is a faux girl power narrative that fails to realize everything its female characters do is a reaction to a male catalyst.  Their lives are virtually non-existent outside of their relationship to Jaime Lannister.

Although Melissa Stack’s script has a few zingers that stick (“Cry on the inside like a winner” comes to mind), director Nick Cassavetes keeps the pacing awkwardly slow.  The first half of the movie is filled with unnecessary scenes that fail to achieve the laughs they’re going for.  This is mostly because Cassavetes, while sometimes adept at creating atmosphere, doesn’t have very good comic timing.

The New Yorker’s Richard Brody also noted this in his review:

In “The Other Woman,” Leslie Mann has an extraordinary showcase and she uses it flamboyantly, with an amazingly inventive range of inflections and line readings. She’s a major comic actor, but Nick Cassavetes does her no favors; his vague framings and ping-pong editing leach the immediacy from her performance.

The contagious energy and charisma of Mann and many of the other performers make the movie bearable, even if their characters mostly come off as a smorgasbord of rom-com caricatures.  It’s an empty confection of wealthy, privileged people attacking each other; its locales, generically sleek renderings of the Bahamas, the Hamptons and New York City, are more the point than a good laugh or a genuine human connection.

Grade: D+

Advertisements

REVIEW: This Is 40

this_is_40_a_l

This Is 40
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Written by: Judd Apatow (screenplay)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow and Iris Apatow

Paul Rudd is the only main character in Judd Apatow’s latest movie who isn’t part of the comedy auteur’s actual nuclear family.  The wife (Leslie Mann) and two children (Maude and Iris Apatow) are basically playing out better-written scenarios of their lives with a cuter dad.

This makes everything about This Is 40 feel both a little weirder and a little more alive; it’s like making your family relive an awkward Christmas on camera.  Apatow is a keen observer of white upper middle class life, though his considerable success as writer, director and producer over the past few years has made his class standing considerably higher than that.  This movie is his best since his other movie with 40 in the title, albeit much more pensive and mature.

Continue reading

The New Movie Stereotypes

When there are hundreds of movies made every year, patterns start to show up.  Whether it’s the characters or the ending, there isn’t much in the way of originality in the movies.  This is especially true with characters, whose archetypes have been mixed and matched since Hollywood’s inception.  As time progressed, new characters have emerged, and been implemented and overused just like the old stereotypes before them.  Here is a list of movie characters we’ve seen time and again the past few years, and that we’ll probably continue to see for many more to come.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl- Realizing your dreams and fulfilling your potential is one of the most common goals of movie protagonists.  Young male independent writers/directors like to do this with the help of a leading lady.  At first, these characters almost demand to be recognized as free spirits, but as soon as love and narrative momentum chains them down, they become muses whose only purpose is to help the main character fulfill their own potential while they are left unfulfilled.  The phrase was first coined by critic Nathan Rabin, who used the term in his review of Elizabethtown. Find them in: Garden State (Natalie Portman), (500) Days of Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Almost Famous (Kate Hudson) and Elizabethtown (Kirsten Dunst)

Continue reading