"The Other Woman," and "Brick Mansions" were released this week. Read on to see whether they're worth your while. Did you miss last week's? Check out reviews for "Transcendence" and "Heaven Is For Real."
|'The Other Woman'|
Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton
Two-and-a-half out of five stars
"The Other Woman" stars Cameron Diaz as Carly, a kick-butt lawyer who looks like, well, Cameron Diaz, and never gets played for a fool by the many men she dates. It’s impossible to find a worthy guy in the big city until Mark ("Game of Thrones" star Nikolaj Costar-Waldau) comes along. Could this handsome, seemingly rich investment professional be the one? Even Carly's assistant, played by rapper Nikki Minaj, thinks he might, since Carly is actually calling him by his first name, rather than a dehumanizing nickname.
But we learn a few minutes into the movie that Mark is actually married to Kate, played with gusto and unwavering commitment by the great Leslie Mann. Kate doesn’t seem particularly smart, given that her husband has been cheating on her for a few months, possibly longer, and she doesn’t suspect a thing.
Mark's lies begin to catch up with him when Carly decides to surprise him at his home, and Kate answers the door. What ensues is an unlikely friendship between wife and mistress. After all, Carly had no idea Mark was married, and Kate has nobody to turn to for comfort, because she shares all of her friends with Mark.
Things really get out of hand when Kate and Carly realize Mark is cheating on both of them with Amber, played by Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton. Though she's not asked to stretch much beyond what she might do in a photo shoot, you can see Upton's potential as an actress: to her credit, she holds her own with two proven comedy talents.
"The Other Woman" lacks an organic flow and often drags, bogged down with unnecessary sentimentality. The movie's laugh-out-loud funny moments are thanks to Diaz and Mann’s commitment to do anything for a laugh. Mann in particular has never been better. But what could’ve been a smart revenge comedy is instead absurd and predictable, relying too much on Diaz and Mann’s physical comedy, at times reducing both of them to vacuous archetypes.
Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Two out of five stars
There’s no way around it: Brick Mansions is a sad movie, on many levels. Foremost, it’s the first time we’re seeing Paul Walker following his tragic death in a high-speed car crash last November. Even worse, there are several instances in which Walker’s character, a police detective named Damien, is involved in several high-speed car chases and crashes. You’d have to be clueless not to make the association. Movies are supposed to be escapism, but there's no way here to escape the specter of Walker’s death.
It’s 2018, and Detroit has fallen on hard times, I mean, harder than usual. At the core of its problems, at least according to the politicians, is a large housing project referred to as Brick Mansions. Things are so bad there, the mayor constructs thick concrete walls around Brick Mansions, supposedly to isolate the city’s worst problems.
We learn just how inconsequential this movie's plot is going to be when the mayor tries to convince some business developers to build a fancy shopping district over Brick Mansions, without offering a solution for what to do with the people living there. It defies logic, and is disconcerting enough to immediately put some moviegoers off.
As for the people who live in Brick Mansions: let’s talk about Lino, played by French actor and Parkour creator David Belle, who starred in 2004's District 13 and its sequel, the two French films on which Brick Mansions is based. Lino is that guy, the one who wants to protect all the innocent people in the projects from the thugs who rule the streets. The head thug is Tremaine (RZA), a well-dressed, gourmet-food-cooking, Bob Marley-loving, tough-talking killer who may or may not be what he seems.
Lino, and his brand of Parkour, is a problem for Tremaine. Tremaine is a problem for Damien, because Tremaine killed his father, a legendary cop. Not only is Damien dedicated to taking down the city’s top crime kingpins, he also wants to avenge his father’s death.
The mayor calls upon Damien for help. Tremaine’s boys have hijacked a truck with a bomb on it, and Damien's task is to infiltrate Brick Mansions, find Tremaine, and detonate the bomb. It seems like an impossible task but Damien will have some help from Lino, who's currently in prison for killing a cop.
Sound reasonable? No, it does not. It’s plain stupid, but perhaps one shouldn't expect much more from a mindless action flick filled with gratuitous Parkour chases and violence, and stilted dialogue so ridiculous, it’s actually funny.
Walker did his best here with what he was given and RZA is always interesting, but Brick Mansions is a shallow, faux-dystopian tale with little to offer other than some exciting stunts, which is precisely why some people are going to see it anyway. At least there's a nice tribute to Walker before the end credits.