What Women Want

Stars: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt

Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt make pleasant adversaries then playmates in this screwball comedy about a male chauvinist who learns a thing or two about women when a freak accident allows him to hear what females are really thinking.

Nick Marshall (Gibson) is a top ad executive, a veritable “man’s man” for a company that sorely needs a good account to stay competitive. He thinks he’s up for a promotion but loses to Darcy Maguire (Hunt), a competent and very well put together manager brought in from another agency. That sends his masculine pride skyrocketing and he’s determined to undermine her every chance he gets. And it’s not long before his chances increase markedly when he’s accidentally transformed into a mind reader who can hear everything private a woman is thinking. From his building’s doorwoman to even his company’s lowliest assistant, out come all sorts of verbal onslaughts that send his own mind reeling. It’s horrible, he thinks, until his therapist (Bette Midler) convinces him that a little knowledge can go a long way. So Nick uses his newfound skill to weasel his chauvinist way into the hearts of his co-workers and anyone else female he happens to meet. In the process, Nick discovers Darcy’s fears and problems as much as he does her talents and he uses this information to good advantage to win her heart.

Gibson’s got what it takes to handle dumb scenes like his putting on nail polish and pantyhose to figure a way to sell women’s products. I’m not sure anyone else could pull it off quite as easily or believably as he does. But all that softshoeing he does to Sinatra tunes is a little much. Anyone that good, ought to be in musicals instead of conceiving promotions for an advertising agency. A scene with Nick bonding with his 15 year old daughter by buying her a gown seems to be just another musical interlude and serves no purpose other than to waste time. I kept wondering what all the hoopla was the kid anyway. She’s a sophomore going to her 18-year old boyfriend’s prom and Nick’s buying her a prom dress as if her whole life depended on it. It isn’t even her event. Why not just make the kid older and have it be her prom?

The growing relationship with Darcy is handled nicely. The hurried turnaround ending, though, makes you wonder if the chauvinist should have had to work a little harder to get the girl. Overall, a cute film that wasn’t as idiotic as it appeared to be in the trailers. Gibson’s got good comedic flair.

Also features Marisa Tomei as girlfriend Lola, Lauren Holly as Gigi, the ex-wife, Delta Burke and Valerie Perrine as his office assistants and Alan Alda as boss Dan Wanamaker.

Lotta says What Women Want is a fair comedy for those who can’t get enough of Mel Gibson.

Reviewed 1/09/01