What Women Want (2000)
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I know he's a controversial figure but I like Mel Gibson as an actor lots. I first really got a thing for him from watching the Lethal Weapon series which he made great alongside Danny Glover. With lots of frenetic energy, it's a great series as far as action goes. You also can't deny just how awesome the Mad Max series is, well the first two anyway.
His career has kind of stalled in the last few years with only a film role a year it would seem, most recently with The Expendables 3. I remember having high hopes for Edge of Darkness from 2010 which was originally a British TV show from the 1980's. Even with Martin Campbell, the series' director, it disappointed. I'll never forget the action hero that Mel Gibson really is though. He's got a lot of charisma and that's why I knew he could handle a movie like What Women Want.
Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) is an advertiser in a Chicago marketing film who excels at being a man's man as well as getting his way with women. He doesn't know what they're thinking but he can get them into bed no problem. He believes that he is up for promotion but his inability to get in the heads of women is what holds him back according to his boss Dan Wanamaker (Alan Alda). It's a woman's world now and selling to women is a must. Instead, he hires Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt) who's an award winning advertiser and reputed man-eater. Of course, the two are destined to clash. That is, until Mel magically gets the power to hear women's thoughts.
The premise of this romantic comedy is pretty silly. It's a play on the old adage that men wish they knew what women were thinking. The way in which Mel is granted this power is pretty unimpressive but whatever, that's not the point. Having every woman he passes have her thoughts projected inside his head is the point. It's every man's dream is it not?
My big complaint about the magic of the thoughts of every woman being heard by Nick is that these thoughts are so poorly written. OK, I admit that I can't read a woman's mind but I am pretty certain that women do not think the way they do in What Women Want. It's a way for the story to advance because Nick uses this info to his advantage but also as cheap comedy. Maybe I'm just being a spoilsport but having a woman scream inside of her head that "I WISH YOU HADN'T SEEN ME NAKED!" in reference to a prior encounter with Nick is not what she would be thinking at that moment during a meeting. Probably one of the worst of these moments is in a sex scene with Lola the coffee shop employee (Marisa Tomei). It's an unbelievably embarrassing scene and I have to say that I was incredibly disappointed with how they ended up using the Lola character.
Mel Gibson is what keeps this movie alive. His charisma is on full display and he doesn't stumble even once. He's put in some pretty embarrassing situations but he successfully plays the game. I'm not sure there are too many men who could wear pantyhose and try on mascara without looking like a total fool. Oh, he does look like a fool but a charming one. Helen Hunt does fine enough as well.
However, What Women Want is as bloated a movie as they come. 127 minutes is way too long for something like this and it's pretty easy to identify what fluff could've been cut completely. Take the dressing up montage of Nick taking his daughter out to buy a prom dress at Saks for example. Not needed and amusingly outdated now. The movie becomes a typical romantic comedy near the end and turns up the cheese to maximum levels. Mel chugs along though and keeps things interesting.
What Women Want is too long and throws reality out the window when it comes to what women are thinking. I know realism is not what the makers are going for here but I really think what women were thinking could've been done a lot better and not used for moments of cheap comedy so much. The romance comes off as rather fantastical too as a result of thoughts being bandied about so much when it's better to be left guessing what is going through someone's mind. Mel is the saving grace here though and many occasions he carries this movie on his back with his winning charisma and charm.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #278 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Adjusted Box Office
This movie ranks #350 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Worldwide Box Office