Revenge is a dish best served ice-cold and in generous portions in Nick Cassavetes’s romantic comedy of spiteful sisterly solidarity.
For the first hour, it’s a tasty dish laced with tart one-liners by screenwriter Melissa Stack, who deftly sketches the emotional bonds between a wife and the two other women, who have unknowingly slept with her skirt-chasing husband.
These early scenes, in which the embittered spouse surfs a tidal wave of rage while the two mistresses wrestle with their guilt, achieve a pleasing blend of painful home truths and ribald humour.
“You had sex with my husband 50 times?!” shrieks the wife when she learns about the impressively gymnastic nature of her husband’s relationship with one of his bits on the side.
“Don’t you have a job? Or hobbies?!” she caterwauls.
Once the feisty femmes agree on a plan of attack to make the cheating husband pay for his bed-hopping sins, any subtlety in the script is supplanted by crude toilet humour and cutesy fairy-tale romances for two of the protagonists.
Thus one mistress drops laxatives into the husband’s drinks and we’re treated to a protracted sequence in a cramped toilet cubicle with the philanderer as he endures a blitzkrieg of deafening rectal explosions that seem to go on forever.
He deserves his comeuppance, we just don’t need to see or hear it, blow for literal blow.
Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is a high-flying attorney with a sassy personal assistant (Nicki Minaj), who aptly describes her boss as “a ruthless law-robot”.
However, Carly wants to be adored and she falls for a handsome charmer called Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who showers her with gifts.
On the spur of the moment, Carly surprises Mark in a sexy outfit and she stumbles on his secret: he’s married with a wife Kate (Leslie Mann), who gave up her job for her man.
Unexpectedly, the two women become friends.
Shared sisterly sympathy solidifies when Carly and Kate discover that Mark has been cheating on both of them with another woman, Amber (Kate Upton).
Emboldened by their experiences, Carly, Kate and Amber resolve to teach Mark a lesson he will never forget.
Meanwhile, Carly flutters her eyelashes at Kate’s hunky brother, Phil (Taylor Kinney).
“You aren’t having my husband and my brother,” Kate warns her.
The Other Woman fails to deliver in a messy and unsatisfying final act that skids wildly out of control and muddies the underlying message of female empowerment.
Diaz and Mann spark appealing screen chemistry and Coster-Waldau possesses the right amount of charm and slipperiness to convince us that he could deceive so many women, and almost get away with it.
Upton is surplus to requirements, but does provide a predictable final punch line for Carly’s ageing, five-times divorced father (Don Johnson).
By Damon Smith