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What do 'The Other Woman,' 'American Pie' and '3 Ninjas' have in common?

* (out of four)

Congratulations, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”). It’s a big moment in any actor’s career when he gets to have loud, painful diarrhea on screen. Now that you’ve had your opportunity in “The Other Woman,” perhaps someday you, Eddie Kaye Thomas (“American Pie”) and the crooks from “3 Ninjas” will get together and discuss your craft.

Not that anyone should be proud to star in this excruciating romantic comedy, which incorporates the aforementioned foul bowel as part of a montage set to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” To be fair, these girls justifiably do want to have fun with their revenge. Carly (Cameron Diaz) has learned that her boyfriend, Mark (Coster-Waldau), is married to Kate (Leslie Mann), who discovers that her husband is also sleeping with, among countless others, 22-year-old boobs-on-legs Amber (Kate Upton). After they team up in a move that’s meant to represent unified female empowerment, they engage in tactics ripped straight from TV reruns. Putting hair remover into a shampoo bottle? I hope first-time writer Melissa K. Stack didn’t strain herself concocting that gem.

Director Nick Cassavetes also made “The Notebook,” so maybe he’s testing how far he can go before women turn on him. He runs “The Other Woman” as if the cast is re-enacting a movie they slept through and barely remember. Diaz, as an attorney in a firm where she does absolutely no work (Nicki Minaj is her secretary), clearly doesn’t buy this story, which half-heartedly leads Carly to Kate’s brother (Taylor Kinney of “Chicago Fire”). Meanwhile, Upton’s (“The Three Stooges”) performance may lead some to believe wearing bikinis is her first language, not English. Wouldn’t it have been something for the (female!) writer to suggest Amber was more than her measurements, or take time to build Carly’s trust, or show how Mark’s cartoonishly sleazy methods have worked for so long? “How to Be a Player” was more convincing. And funnier.

The movie’s one star comes from the one person who actually does her job. Mann couldn’t be phony if she tried, and “The Other Woman” labors to get all it can from the actress’ ability to be funny even as her character falls to pieces. Of course, the movie doesn’t really care about feelings, only the broad amateurism it takes to swing wildly from thinly realized heartbreak to awkward farce to weirdly violent comeuppance. Both genders should be offended, but most regretful of all should be Diaz, who next time will shred a script once she reads: “Then she gets hit in the face by a large dog’s balls.”

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.

mpais@tribune.com

 

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