Cinema Review: The Other Women

nicki-minaj-give-dating-advice-in-the-other-woman

DIR: Nick Cassavetes • WRI: Melissa Stack  PRO: Julie Yorn • DOP: Robert Fraisse • ED: Jim Flynn, Alan Heim • MUS: Aaron Zigman • DES: Dan Davis • CAST: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nicki Minaj

When former party girl Carly (Cameron Diaz) discovers that her Mr Perfect beau Mark has a wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), the women scorned set out to tear down the man that betrayed them both. Introduce yet another mistress Amber (Kate Upton) and you have a recipe for this year’s best slapstick comedy. Or so the makers behind this debacle obviously thought.

Clearly trying to capitalise on the success of 2011’s female-centric comedy Bridesmaids, director Nick Cassavettes and writer Melissa Stack apparently thought that getting a group of women together and putting them through numerous farcical sets followed by a couple of epiphanies and a switcheroo on the other woman genre would be original enough to garner critical praise and couple of hundred million at the box office.

They seemed to have forgotten however that the magic of Bridesmaids was the clever script and the always amusing interplay between the characters. In The Other Woman every scene feels like they are just biding time until they move on to the next slapstick gag. These gags include hair removal dumped into Mark’s shampoo, oestrogen in morning shakes and laxatives in drinks, and then we are expected to laugh for five minutes as the aftermath unfolds. These scenes, slightly funny as some of them may be, cannot do enough to save The Other Woman from its meandering script. It clearly cannot decide what sort of movie it wants to be. It has been advertised as a raucous comedy promoting female empowerment and the first hour tries to run with that as much as it can, but it inadvertently slides away from this by the end of the film.

The performances are fine with Diaz probably playing the most straight of the three women and anchoring the irrational life questioning of Mann’s Kate and the naive absent-mindedness of Upton’s Amber (whose acting skills would be severely questioned only for the fact that she was aptly cast as a bimbo). Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a lot of fun as the smarmy, philandering Mark and Nicki Minaj churns out a surprisingly good comedic performance as Carly’s colleague with questionable morals.

The ‘women scorned’ concept and the likeability of Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann are sure to make this one a modest box-office success at the very least, while the inclusion of Kate Upton and finding clever ways to have her in a bikini for half the movie will also bring some men to the cinema. Unfortunately, however, there are far too many flaws for the vast majority to get over to enjoy this one.

Sean Brosnan

12A (See IFCO for details)
109 mins

The Other Woman is released on 23rd April 2014

The Other Woman – Official Website

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Cinema Review: What to Expect When You’re Expecting


DIR: Kirk Jones • WRI: Shauna Cross, Heather Hach, • PRO: Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, David Thwaites • DOP: Xavier Pérez Grobet • ED: Michael Berenbaum • DES: Andrew Laws • Cast: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Rodrigo Santoro

First things first, the tagline for this movie: ‘It’s Too Late To Pull Out Now; while it would’ve been funny and suitable for Knocked Up 2, is far and away the most risqué thing about What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Following on from the ‘hit’ adaptation of self-help book He’s Just Not That Into You, comes this big screen version of a book aimed at the pregnant every-woman. But even these two criteria, ‘pregnant’ and ‘every-woman’, aren’t met by this sub-par rom-com, with one couple adopting a baby from Africa, another couple dealing with the aftermath of NOT having a child together, and as for the ‘every-woman’ part…

Jennifer Lopez is a marine photographer, Cameron Diaz is a fitness show host, Brooklyn Decker is the trophy wife of a race-car driving champion, Elizabeth Banks is a baby-book author/baby-store owner and Anna Kendrick is embroiled in a fast-food van turf war. Every one of these women are superstar beautiful, each paired with a perfect husband/boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Ben Falcone and Chace Crawford, all uniformly underwritten), with not a single single-mother to be found, and not a single cliché about new-fathers left untapped.

But this movie really was always going to be about and for the women, and that would be fine too, if they hadn’t left the movie almost devoid of laughs. There are one or two good lines from Chris Rock and co. as the Father’s Club (‘It’s like Fight Club, but with strollers.’ That wasn’t one of the good lines), and Elizabeth Banks has some fun with her character’s bi-polar mania, although after playing pretty much the exact same role in Scrubs and 30 Rock, she should check she’s not being pregnant pigeonholed.

If you want a funny film about pregnancy, go watch Knocked Up again, whereas WTEWYE is bland, safe and completely inoffensive. And who in this world thinks pregnancy is any of those things?

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is released on 25th May 2012

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQTetUGvKWk

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Bad Teacher

Bad-Teacher

DIR: Jake Kasdan • WRI: Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg • PRO: Jimmy Miller • DOP: Alar Kivilo • Ed: Tara Timpone • DES: Jefferson Sage • Cast: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel

A true original is a hard find. Any purist who bemoans a poor interpretation, remake or cover version will most likely find that the original they admire borrowed from elsewhere in its creation. So rather than stack the odds in favour of immediate dismissal, we should really give the benefit of the doubt to a movie that might seem a tired re-tread of old material. The classroom setting has been recycled countless times; quite often in tales of a right of passage for youth, in other cases as a catalogue of the life of an inspiring teacher. Bad Teacher takes this setting and tries to invert the conventions of school day movies and as tastes seem to dictate at the moment fill up the movie with lewd humour. The story is told from the teacher’s perspective – that of Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz), a woman intent on finding a wealthy man to take care of her, who chose a teaching career as the softest route to earn an income until she finds the necessary man. The opening of the film sees her plans fall apart so that she is compelled to return to teaching for another year and return also to the hunt for a man.

The movies title immediately invites comparison with Bad Santa but as soon as we are hit with the caliber of humour and jokes of Bad Teacher is it made clear this is a poor, poor successor. The gags do work on paper, the trouble is they have worked on paper before and are lazy repeats of humour that any savy viewer will know the punch line to a long way off. There seems to be method of performing which encourages over acting, glaring eyes and shouting to create comedy. You might call it the Will Ferrell approach. It is at epidemic proportions in this movie in the form of Lucy Punch who plays the ‘villain’ of the piece. The eccentricity of the character is over done and uninteresting; the character belongs in a pantomime rather than an adult comedy. This is true also of most of the supporting cast, the line-up of usual suspects fill out the school staff room – dothery, distracted, docile characters meant to add to the comedy but instead just come across jarring and flat.

The movies greatest missed opportunity is to be a properly edgy, treacle black comedy. Cameron Diaz is clearly game to go full throttle into the depths of a nasty character, filthy mouth and bad intentions intact. She is on fire here, not the least bit likeable but the strength of her screen presence is key to making the movie watchable. Julia Roberts and Hilary Swank may go for teaching roles that empower women and reform inner city kids but Diaz could have delivered a memorable character, perverting all these roles, if only the material was better. The best teaser of what could have been achieved is in her chemistry with Jason Segel’s gym teacher; their dialogue sparks and he is the only character drawn well enough to engage properly with her and not play-up as if performing for pre-schoolers. Half way throught the movie, in the midst of Elizabeth’s selfish scheming, we get a montage set to ‘Gangstas Paradise’. By inviting another comparison, Bad Teacher shows its lack of bravery – a tame take on a genre ripe for subverting and humour that misses the mark too often. At risk of ending as many other reviews will do, this report card is firmly marked ‘Must Do Better’.

 

William O’Keefe

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Bad Teacher is released on 17th June 2011

Bad Teacher – Official Website

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUSR6VKCR40

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The Box

The Box

DIR/WRI: Richard Kelly • PRO: Richard Kelly, Dan Lin, Kelly McKittrick, Sean McKittrick • DOP: Steven Poster • ED: Sam Bauer • DES: Sam Bauer • CAST: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella

The Box is a bitter disappointment. From the outset, the film aims to tackle tough moral questions, and shed light on the nature of the human condition. However, by the film’s conclusion, you feel these issues have not been sufficiently explored, let alone analysed, and you are no wiser to the film’s take on morality.

Director Richard Kelly’s latest venture begins humbly enough. Depicting a struggling family in 1970’s Virginia, couple Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) are confronted with an arresting moral choice. The graphically disfigured Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) presents the titular box, upon which there is a red button. Should it be pushed, the family will receive one million dollars, tax free.

And the inevitable catch? Pushing the button will directly prompt the death of another person, unknown to the couple. Of Course.

So it’s definitely unique; ridiculous yet unique. And before the first act is up, Kelly has produced an engaging moral dialogue, framed skilfully by sympathetic characters and an interesting, if superfluous, sub-plot. Sound appealing? Well, brace for disappointment, as soon all momentum for substantial moral discussion is lost and the film becomes as misshapen as Steward’s lightning-scarred face.

The Box quickly descends into a farcical array of half-cooked themes and unexplored plot points. Although the film persists in referencing its moralising roots, this is done without effort and the façade is, in turn, as mentally vacant as the Steward’s body-snatched ‘employees’.

Technically, there is plenty to admire in this movie: the star-studded cast does an admirable and thoroughly convincing job, specifically Langella who lends an air of charm, tension and, peculiar likeability to his role, despite its innate silliness. The editing and camerawork neither jar not jolt the experience. The pacing generates tension while gradually revealing the plot. Most importantly, and to the films credit, the subject of deformity is addressed sensitively and tactfully.

Sadly, these accomplishments cannot mask the blatant abandonment of moral dialogue. It’s possible that if The Box had kept its cards to its chest, the whole experience would come up aces and the surprising route it takes would intrigue rather than infuriate. Unfortunately, it lacks the courage to deliver on it promises, opting instead for a deformed, alien and downright bizarre tale.

Jack McGlynn
(See biog here)

Rated 15a (see IFCO website for details)
The Box
is released 4th Dec 2009

The Box – Official Website

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