a critiQal film review What Women Want (2000)

Plot: Nick (Gibson) is good with the ladies, but bad with their feelings. Then, during a freak accident involving a hair dryer and a bathtub, his life changes. Suddenly, he can hear what any women thinks! At first thinking it's a curse, he realizes what he can do with this new found gift - use it to undermine his new female boss, Darcey Maguire (Hunt), and get her job. Problem is, he starts falling for her.

590 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 57s)
  • ...Gibson's foray into chick flicks isn't as bad as it could have been.

Mel Gibson, star of such guy faves as Braveheart and Lethal Weapon (1987), decides to go the feminine route and stars in the latest chick flick, What Women Want.

Guys, drawn away in droves after the preview showed Mel Gibson trying on pantyhose and waxing his legs, will be forced into watching this by female friends/girlfriends/wives, etc. Will they be able to stand it, or will they be running for the hills?

Mel Gibson, even while trying on feminine products, keeps his humor about him, and still manages to convey some machismo. It would have been easy for him to totally go for broke, and overplay this film too much, but he didn’t succumb, and the movie is better because of it.

Helen Hunt, his new boss, does a good job as well, playing the strong female role easily.

Alan Alda, as the big boss of the ad agency where Mel and Helen both work, keeps it low-key, as usual, and does a good job as well.

The plot of What Women Want has basically been done before, in different ways – Groundhog Day (1993) comes immediately to mind. In that film, Bill Murray is trying to give Andie McDowell everything she wants, and needs to repeat everything over and over again to get it right. Mel’s character in this film has it easier – all he has to do is listen to what they’re thinking.

Both Bill and Mel use their “gifts” first for their own benefit, and things don’t work out like they plan. Then they start using their unique gifts for other people’s use, and suddenly the world is a much better place. The role reversal is a nice switch, and it’s good to see women getting to play richer characters, rather then just the bimbo on the lead man’s arm. Of course, it’s always nice to see the bimbo every once in awhile (or the thug, in the man’s case), but it’s good to be able to see actresses actually be able to act, rather then just there for show.

In their effort to show the woman’s point of view, this film does seem to categorize males quite easily, and wrongly. It seems to give off the message that the only real way to impress women is to be one. And then you’re gay, as Marisa Tomei’s character thinks at one point. It seems to stereotype men so easily, which is unfortunate. The men all do rotten things throughout the film, while all the women are so picked on, and all of them are having trouble with their boyfriends.

I suppose the men should expect this, after all, we have stereotyped women for years, but it’s still unfortunate that the only way to show that women are more then just stereotypes is to stereotype the men. Oh well.

With it’s feminine approach, What Women Want could possibly be a little insightful for men who are forced to sit through it. The comedy aspect is funny, for the most part, so it’s not going to be sheer torture, guys.

The guys will probably cringe to see Mel Gibson in a pair of pantyhose, but other then that scene, there shouldn’t be too much for the guys to handle.

So, next time she insists on you two renting a movie she wants to watch, pick this one out, and save yourself from having to sit through The Horse Whisperer or Waiting To Exhale.

Like the title says, it’s What Women Want…and it’s not as bad as some.

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