Directed by Nancy Meyers
Running Time: 2:07
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

What Women Want had the charm and good looks of Mel Gibson, the beauty of Helen Hunt, and an interesting idea going for it, but didn't hit the home run I was looking for. Overall it had some funny and touching moments, but meandered at times, had subplots that weren't necessary, and an ending that left me wondering.

Gibson stars as Nick Marshall, a good looking ladies man who works at an advertising agency. When the job he thinks he's supposed to get, ends up going to a woman named Darcy (Hunt), he gets a little annoyed. That night he ends up almost killing himself by electrocution in a bathtub, but instead ends up with the amazing ability to read women's minds. This of course freaks him out, but after a trip to a family psychologist (Bette Midler) he realizes the possibilities. He decides to try and undermine his new boss Darcy and get her kicked out so he can take her job. Along the way he starts to find out what everyone really thinks about it, and he finds out he's not as well-liked as he thought. From co-workers to his own daughter, people see him as a male chauvinist among other things, and women generally don't like him. He starts to become more in tune with what women want, and starts to change and care more about the women he used to just sleep with and kick out. Soon he realizes that he's in love with Darcy, but it may be too late. He nailed a big account, but he used what was in Darcy's thoughts to get it, and she might be out of a job, unless Nick can come in and save the day.

What Women Want had a lot of potential for some great comedic scenes, but instead sort of floundered between comedy and drama. Mel Gibson is a very engaging personality (as well as being my favorite actor) and could have easily made this into a very funny movie, but instead the plot went dramatic. There was a story line that dealt with one woman feeling un-wanted and considering suicide. I'm not sure what role that played in the movie, other than helping to make the film much too long. If I (or any other man) had the ability to read women's minds, I don't think my first thought would be to undermine my new boss and try and take her job. I'm not sure what my first thought would be, but it probably wouldn't be that. There was a lot of things that weren't very necessary, like the scene with Marisa Tomei (who by the way has never looked better) where Nick admits to something that isn't true. Scenes like that seemed just thrown in there, and weren't needed. The movie clocked in at over 2 hours, and could have easily been made in an hour and a half and still hit all the points it needed to hit. As much as I enjoy Mel Gibson, after a while I just kept waiting for a point to be made.

As I said, Gibson is my favorite actor, so any movie he's in immediately gets a thumbs up. In this role he was able to use his charm and likeability well. Helen Hunt, who as an aside seems to be in every other movie that comes out these days, manages to play her role well enough, but I'm starting to notice that every character she plays is almost the same. Same quirky smile, same "hmm", same looks. She needs to start branching out a bit more as an actress before she starts to get stale. The supporting cast was good, but not a huge part of the movie. The soundtrack was great, where else can you get Frank Sinatra, Christina Aguilera and a song named "Bitch" all in one movie? The idea behind the movie was a good one, but not used as well as it could have been. Had the writer and director decided exactly what they wanted the movie to be, a comedy, drama or dramedy, maybe it would have been better, but it went back and forth too much and lacked focus.

Overall if you like Mel Gibson (even if you don't like him as much as I do), you'll like What Women Want. He's got charm to spare, and carries the entire movie on his back. It's got some funny moments, but also some serious ones. The story jumps back and forth and needed to be centered a bit more, but in the end, I thought it was enjoyable.

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reviewed 12/25/00

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