Reviews: 'The Other Woman' and 'Brick Mansions'
Published Friday, April 25, 2014 7:05AM EDT
THE OTHER WOMAN: 3 ½ STARS
"The Other Woman," a new madcap comedy from "The Notebook" director Nick Cassavetes, features a character who tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights.
There have been philanderers on film before, but rarely has one cinematic cheater spread himself so thin, carrying on simultaneously with Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton.
That man, Mark King (Game of Thrones's Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is cheating on his wife (Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Diaz and Upton). "We got played by the same guy," says Carly. "I call it a tie."
The three women form an unlikely bond-"We are the weirdest friends ever," says Carly-drowning their sorrows in a sea of tequila shots before hatching a plan to humiliate and financially ruin the three timer. "The three of us can be just as shady as he can."
With "The Notebook" Cassavetes made one of the most romantic movies of recent years. With "The Other Woman" the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.
This is an anti-romance flick about sex, lies and adultery but it is ripe with laughs and some fun performances. Mann goes all in as a Lucille Ball-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown type, Diaz has great comic timing and even the voluptuous Kate "She's a clichéd version of every wife's nightmare" Upton, who will never be confused with Meryl Streep, is charming and funny.
Singer Nicki Minaj, who darts in and out of the film in an extended cameo, manages to get a couple of zingers in there as well. Coster-Waldau doesn't fare as well. He's fine as the oily Casanova but is more "Game of Thrones" (he's Jaime Lannister on the HBO show) when it comes to playing comedy. In other words he's better at sword swinging than slapstick.
The film is slightly mean spirited and not terribly subtle in its examination of the dynamics between men and women, or in its soundtrack. The "Mission Impossible" theme blares over a scene where Diaz and Mann spy on Coster-Waldau, and you can bet your bottom dollar "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" will play at some point.
It may not be refined but it does get the girl power stuff right, and that's more the point of the film.
This isn't a movie about the men, they are flesh props, simply the McGuffins that forward the plot. This is a movie about female bonding rather than female blaming and on that level it scores.
The comedy material is often elevated and enhanced by the performer's skill, but the film has its (broken) heart in the right place.
"The Other Woman" is a chick flick that isn't "Bridemaids" funny, but you will laugh out loud quite a few times.
BRICK MANSIONS: 3 STARS
Paul Walker's untimely death in November of last year cut short a fast and furious career. The handsome leading man specialized in high-octane movies that often valued action over story. The "Fast and Furious" films made him a star and defined his testosterone-steeped genre.
His new film, "Brick Mansion" is another pedal-to-the-metal actioner that could easily have been titled "The Fast and the Frenetic." Based on a ten-year-old French movie called "District 13," this time around the story is set in Detroit just a few years from now.
The film largely takes place inside a walled off, run down Neighborhood called Brick Mansions. The bankrupt city has abandoned the area, leaving it to Tremaine (RZA), a drug lord who rules his mini kingdom with an iron fist.
When he comes in control of a neutron bomb, undercover cop Damien Collier (Walker) is teamed with anti-drug crusader and parkour expert Lino (David Belle) to find the bomb and Tremaine in just ten hours. "Brick Mansions" is the kind of movie where the hero says, 'This is a really bad idea," before doing some crazy, dangerous stunt.
The action and story (by Luc Besson) are by-the-book-the "find the bomb!" plotline boils down to the oldest thriller tricks, the ticking bomb-but are performed with zeal by Walker and Belle, who is one of the inventors of parkour.
The stunts are wild, although shot in such a frenetic style it is occasionally hard to keep track of who is punching who.
Walker is suitably stoic as the straight-arrow undercover cop. He's physical-flipping through the air like a Cirque du Soleil gymnast without mussing his perfect hair-and doesn't step out of his (and his audience's) action movie comfort zone.
In fact, no one goes too far out of their comfort zones. RZA is brings some menace to Mr. "I don't do anxious. I cause anxious." Tremaine, and Belle never saw a window or an opening he couldn't swing through feet first.
Despite having one of the silliest feel good endings in the history of action movies, "Brick Mansions" is an engaging movie. It won't engage your brain, but is wild enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.