By Mary Milliken
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “The Other Woman” is a somewhat rare species in today’s film fauna – a comedy by women, about women and for women.
But not just for women, star Cameron Diaz said, even though the film is a tale of three women who band together to take revenge on the cheating cad and reduce him to a whimpering mess.
“Everyone can relate to feeling betrayed,” said Diaz, dismissing any notions that “The Other Woman” is solely a “chick flick.”
If men don’t buy into that line, then there’s the allure of a screwball and slightly raunchy comedy with Kate Upton, the curvaceous Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model, who makes her first serious foray into acting as the second other woman.
The film from Fox, which opens on Friday in U.S. and Canadian theaters, follows in the footsteps of female-driven comedies “Bridesmaids” in 2011 and “The Heat,” which was the top-grossing comic film in 2013.
“The Other Woman” is expected to bring in $18 million at the box office in its first weekend, according to Boxoffice.com, less than “Bridesmaids” with $26 million and “The Heat” with $39 million, although those films opened in the busier movie-going months of May and June, respectively.
Diaz, 41, plays the cool, competent lawyer Carly, who lets her guard down when she falls for Mark, a suave businessman played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Danish actor who stars in HBO’s medieval fantasy “Game of Thrones.”
Carly discovers Mark is married. His wife Kate, played by Leslie Mann, turns to Carly for support when she finds her world turned upside down by her husband’s infidelity.
Together, they discover him cavorting with the much younger Amber, played by the 21-year-old Upton, who agrees to join the team – known as “the lawyer, the wife and the boobs” – and take Mark down.
For Diaz, the film – written and produced by women – is unique because instead of a story “about three women getting in a catfight over a man, they actually become friends.”
‘FEEL A BIT OF PAIN’
Much of the physical comedy is instigated by Mann, best known for her roles in films like “This Is 40″ from her director-husband Judd Apatow. Her goofiness is only enhanced by the gigantic dog she carts around New York City.
Kate and Carly get sloppily drunk and begin their scheming, finding themselves splayed out on the floor or stuck in the bushes in their dogged determination to destroy Mark. Their performances bring to mind Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy’s outrageous antics in “Bridesmaids.”
Mann, 42, said director Nick Cassavetes pushed her out of her comic comfort zone, and she found it “very liberating, a lot of fun for me to just go crazy and have that freedom.”
And she didn’t lose the opportunity to poke fun at the husband who has directed her in previous films.
Without revealing too many of the comic twists, it’s safe to say that Mark’s manhood takes a beating, one that will tap into many a revenge fantasy, and not just for women.
“I love watching self-important (expletive) fall on their face, and he is that guy,” said Coster-Waldau, who himself plays an entitled swordsman of questionable morals in “Game of Thrones.”
“Those guys, you just want them to feel a bit of pain,” the 43-year-old actor added. “I enjoyed every second of it.”
While there are sexual topics, some explicit language and bathroom humor, Diaz along with the filmmakers and Fox succeeded in overturning an initial R rating for the film in favor of PG-13, which widens its potential audience considerably.
In a movie landscape largely populated by action heroes and animated figures, particularly in the busy summer season, Diaz said she thinks Hollywood is waking up to comedy driven by women.
“What I really love is that women can ask for these things,” Diaz said. “They can ask for films that represent them.”
Mann chimed in: “Our movie is like sending a message to the studios to make more.”
(Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Jan Paschal)