updated 04/25/2014 AT 2:35 PM ET
•originally published 04/25/2014 AT 3:45 PM ET
One man versus three women: That’s the box-office showdown this weekend, which pits Tom Hardy’s man-in-a-car solo showcase Locke against the jilted-gals comedy The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton and Leslie Mann.
So what’s worth catching – and what are you better off skipping? PEOPLE’s movie critic weighs in on the week’s notable releases.
Besides a compelling script and restrained directorial hand, it takes a marvelously talented actor to pull off that kind of high-wire act, and Hardy once again proves why he’s one of the best of his generation. He imbues Ivan with a kind of preternatural calm, as the married father calls his family to tell them he’s not coming home right away, and informs his office that he’ll be absent in the morning as they begin a massive construction project. In between calls, Ivan rails at his dead father, only then betraying a roiling spirit beneath that meticulous self-control.
Somehow, the effect is mesmerizing. For every heartbreaking moment with his wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson), Ivan has a hilarious one with his panicky, drunk assistant, Donal (Andrew Scott, better known as Sherlock’s Moriarty), who has to fill in for his boss on the worst possible day. The supporting performances punctuate the film with dramatic tension, but it’s always Hardy who holds the center. For all of Ivan’s errors and misjudgments, his disquieting affect, and his dwindling hold on what used to be his life, he remains empathetic and relatable. You get this guy – what he did, why he did it and ultimately, why he mucked it up so thoroughly. What you won’t get is why the movie has to end after only 85 minutes, just as we were getting started.
The Other Woman
Or at least she is until Carly finds her way to Kate’s doorstep, and the two realize that Mark is a louse. (It’s actually remarkable that Kate could put two and two together like that, since the movie insists that she’s so dumb, she’d get turned around running in place.) The women decide to team up, eventually looping in a third girlfriend, Amber (Kate Upton).
This is where hilarity usually ensues, and while there are a few solidly funny moments, The Other Woman is largely an extended groan. The movie touts its lady-power theme, celebrating Kate’s mission to take back her dignity, then undercuts it with pratfalls and gross toilet humor. (Diaz largely emerges unscathed, with a likable, more interesting character). Coster-Waldau is appropriately oily as Mark, but even he gets dragged into jokes that are beneath him. No, I’m afraid the only reason to see The Other Woman is to convince Hollywood that female-driven comedies are worth the investment. Of course, seeing this particular movie also implies that studios needn’t bother making good ones.
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