I'm going to be honest: I had no desire to see The Other Woman. I saw the poster a couple of months ago, read the premise, and said to myself, no way. Not being a reviewer with an editor assigning me movies to write about, I have that option. Sadly, some of my colleagues did not.
But even though the reviews -- many from women -- have been god-awful, (it stands at 26% on Rotten Tomatoes), female audiences went to the movies this weekend to see The Other Women to the tune of $24.7 million on approximately 3,000 screens. It also grossed $20 million overseas. This is another example of women fueling the success of a film: 75% of the people attending were women and 65% of those who bought tickets were over 25. And the women who saw it liked it, giving the film a B+ CinemaScore rating.
On the one hand, that's a good sign -- a mediocre movie about women can command the box office in the same way a mediocre movie about men can. It's also a sign that women are desperate to to see movies about (over-40!) women, reviews not withstanding. Imagine what could happen if there was a movie about women that got good reviews and opened on 3,000 screens? Well, we have seen that before. The Heat opened to almost $40 million last summer.
Another thing it shows is that Cameron Diaz is still a star and can open movies. She clearly got a decent payday on this film, as the budget was $40 million. And I give credit to Fox by sneaking in the movie this past weekend between Captain America and the upcoming Spiderman sequel.
Back to the reviews. This film brought out deep vitriol -- from women and men -- but it is the women's thoughts I want to focus on.
There is the superbly titled review from Danielle Henderson in The Stranger: "The Other Woman: A Shit Sandwich Wrapped In Shit, Lovingly Placed In A Bag Made Entirely of Shit." It starts out like this: "The Other Woman is an exercise in futility, pointing out all the ways women should be punished for existing." It's downhill from there.
Linda Holmes from NPR added her thoughts in "'The Other Woman': When Terrible Movies Happen To Funny Actresses":
"It's deliciously, almost poetically, perhaps polemically depressing. The Other Woman is no charming film about lady buddies, the way they'd like it to be, but it is a gift-wrapped boon to critics who have been looking for an opportunity to explain the miserable circumstances in which genuinely talented comic actresses -- even powerful ones, even proven ones, even ones doing the absolute best they possibly can -- still very often find themselves."
And she points out that in the entire 109 minutes of the movie, these women talk to each other about NOTHING other than a man. It's a movie about three women that fails the Bechdel Test.
What makes me nervous is that this film and the upcoming Walk of Shame seems to feel like something not so good is happening here. This is one time I hope these successes get seen as a fluke and not a trend.