‘The Other Woman’: When Terrible Movies Happen To Funny Actresses

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It is the most grotesque pantomime of girl power, these beautiful women clinking glasses and ultimately trading what must be the weakest and least earned high-five in cinema history after executing a plot made possible by one of their daddies and done with considerably more panache in the painfully generic but at least mildly agreeable 1987 Michael J. Fox film The Secret of My Success.

Honestly, I saw this movie and while I have never been a huge fan of Cameron Diaz, I have always been partially attracted to a number of her movies. No, it’s not the bisexual side talking. I just can’t help but enjoy a good girl power movie from time to time (Charlie’s Angels, anyone?). I wouldn’t say they are released sparingly each year, but a good female empowerment movie is hard to come by. Heck, I even settle for the standard, predictable plot of: woman + conflict (including no man), woman finds creative way to solve conflict using her woman powers, woman conquers world and man when there is nothing good on TV! But it’s always nice to find that gem that breaks some sort of rule or boundary or plot formula. Or, that by virtue of writers and directors that recognize women as human (gasp), we get full-fledged characters that happen to be women.

Thinking specifically of The Other Woman, I admit that I was primarily interested in watching it for a second reason. That is, the younger-older sister teen movie John Tucker Must Die. That movie. Let me tell you about that wonderful, freaking movie. It’s hilarious. It’s edgy as teen movies get without breaking the boundaries of “What would a real teenager do?” because, let’s face it, we don’t have tons of money or brains as teenagers, but we do possibly have our mom’s estrogen pills to pilfer. The soundtrack is appropriate and the script matches the timelessness of, I think, Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. Maybe it’s not perfect, and it doesn’t seem to pass the Bechdel Test either.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that a good movie doesn’t need that seal of approval in order to be considered good in some way. And, I actually happen to disagree slightly with the criticism appointed to it.

The entire movie is about John Tucker – nearly every conversation relates back to him. If not, they relate to Kate’s mother’s boyfriends.

Is the movie really about him? Or is there some hardcore Chekhov’s gun principle to that 2006 film which, though in the surface seems to revolve around John, it is NOT really a movie about him. I would really like to watch it again and return to this article for an update. I saw it a few months ago and my memory is hazy, but I think that there are conversations (and character development) in that movie that aren’t about John Tucker. Sure, that everything needs to return to him is a given. The title gives the movie away. However, though we circle back to the main plot (read: man) after talks on femininity, ambitions and self-empowerment, I think it’s a movie that presents some things and someones that are rounded, interesting and subversive enough to make the film a fun and different movie-watching experience.

(Though will either movie stand against stronger films like Bridesmaids? Who knows.)

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