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Overall Rating
3.08

Awesome: 10.63%
Worth A Look30.63%
Average: 26.88%
Pretty Bad: 20%
Total Crap: 11.88%

12 reviews, 88 user ratings


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What Women Want (2000)
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by Erik Childress

"Missed Opportunities Give Us No Clue"
3 stars

For a film that sets itself amidst the world of advertising, its ironic that such falsity can be found in its title. It's a good title. A grabber, promising to shed some light on the eons-old question of the sexes battle. Sure it's also meant to be a comedy, but so is the sexes' battle. But the real title of the new Mel Gibson starrer should be "What Some Women Think" about Nick Marshall. Because after sitting through this overly long, only occasionally funny film, men will still have no idea what they want.

Gibson plays the aforementioned Nick Marshall as the son of a Vegas showgirl, who grew up around beautiful half-naked women catering to his every need as a cute little boy. Now all grown up (in age), Nick is an unapologetic womanizer using a few lines in the book, (since when you look like Mel Gibson you don't have to use every line) to charm the pants off women.

It didn't work long for his ex-wife (Lauren Holly) who begins narrating the story, for no reason whatsoever than to provide the lazy screenwriter's tool of an opening narration. She never narrates again and then disappears for all but two scenes, one of them to introduce Nick's 15-year old daughter, Alex (Ashley Johnson) into the equation. Why their relationship was terminated is never broached.

At work, Nick is one of the top guys in the advertising field in Chicago, but he doesn't quite have the knack for creating campaigns that won't offend the vaginal demographic. This premise could have been milked for maximum effect (a la Crazy People) but instead is just mentioned in passing. Nick will get his chance though when he's passed over for promotion by outside ringer, Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt) who insists everyone brainstorm for ideas on the items she gives everyone in a nice pink box. How quaint.

Nick goes through the better half of a bottle of wine that night, tries on every single feminine product to get inside their head, and has a little accident with electricity. The next morning he wakes up to actually find himself inside their heads, hearing the thoughts of every female creature within earshot. It then takes a cameo by Bette Midler to tell Nick he's received a blessing. Why it seemingly comes in such a disguise to Nick is a bigger mystery than why the screenwriters didn't take full advantage of it. Sure, it may be a tad annoying at first and send you running for the Tylenol, but why do we waste even more time (it takes 35 minutes for him to receive his new power) on having Nick try to get rid of it? Is that what Syd Field taught Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (writers for television's "The King of Queens")?

What Women Want is not unlike the far superior Groundhog Day, where an egotistical character uses to his advantage and must learn from the new "power" he's been granted. Where Groundhog Day stretched its one joke into several branches of hilarity and originality, What Women Want stares its singular premise into the abyss of mediocrity.

Nick gets to hear how many of the women around him despise him. He repeats their thoughts back to them as if he was thinking exactly what they were (over and over and over and over) so many times that I began to feel like Punsutawney Phil. He never really learns anything except how to be a better lover, a scene that could have gone for the full "O" in an "R" film, but winds up feeling more fake.

Yet tried and true this is a comedy. And where there's a will, occasionally there's a laugh. And there are many laughs in What Women Want during the middle hour portion when Nick has his third ear. Yes, some of it does become stale as has been the case with all of Nancy Meyers projects dating back to Private Benjamin and up through films like Baby Boom, I Love Trouble and the Father of the Bride remakes with Steve Martin.

There are so many subplots and side-trips that its impossible to keep a vested interest in all of them since Meyers isn't that great a director to go the full nine yards. Aside from the absentee ex-wife, there's Nick's relationship with the daughter that doesn't exactly fit the definition of classic beauty. Why not comment on man's preoccupation with beauty over brains, even if she doesn't seem that smart. That could also work with the shy, possibly suicidal office worker (Judy Greer) whom nobody notices.

The film also comes off a little hypocritical in its handling of the coffee shop worker (Marisa Tomei) hiding the fact that she relishes Nick's flirting. When her thoughts touchingly plead with Nick not to be yet another to hurt her, what does he do? Gives her a night of incredible sex and then forgets about her because there's a more recent Oscar winner waiting in the wings for the film's primary romance.

And what's with that Chinese woman? Confucius say "man must lose power when it convenient for plot." It's also convenient for Meyers to rely on the ol' Nora Ephron stand-by – the musical montage. Meyers constantly goes to the bench for Sinatra and Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife." The sound even gets cranked up so loud on "Knife" one time that I was unsure if we were supposed to hear the conversations that were going on, which I found odd since one of the themes of the movie is all about listening.

Aside from all the negatives about the film, its one saving grace is Mel Gibson. Because Mel is known primarily as Mad Max, Martin Riggs, or Braveheart himself, William Wallace, he doesn't get credit for what he is. And that's the rare thing known as the complete actor. Mel has proven time and time again that he's a natural comedian as well as handling action roles and even Shakespeare. Here he even does an impromptu dance routine that would put him right at home doing a full-blown musical. Helen Hunt doesn't come off nearly as successful in an underwritten role. Her now recognizable approach to smiling has a way of feeling forced and condescending. Yet another area that could have put some women I've known under the microscope.

What Women Want is a hotbed of missed opportunities disguised as a high-concept big season comedy. A high-concept that is bookended with overly long half-hour passages that do nothing but set-up and wrap-up, producing very little in the way of laughs. Your enjoyment of the film is then left up to how well you like Mel because through a very long 126 minutes, that's all there is to enjoy.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3906&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/14/00 17:53:51
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User Comments

4/06/13 CC I usually hate romcoms, but great performance from Mel & great review. 4 stars
4/02/11 Monday Morning No excuse for a 165-minute running time. Way excessive. 2 stars
9/14/08 Bill H I hated the musical montage the most. 1 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner Never laughed so hard in my Life!! 5 stars
5/29/08 PAUL SHORTT WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS; MEN ARE FROM THE GUTTER - TYPE ATTITUDE 1 stars
2/09/08 Samantha P funny film, with great soundtrack! 4 stars
12/20/07 Wendell Maness Women are not too smart, easy to cheat on! 3 stars
7/11/07 Tiffany Losco funny, cute movie 5 stars
3/07/07 Stanley Thai A funny film and well-acted. 4 stars
7/11/06 srii romantic pretty funny moview 4 stars
7/11/06 David Cohen I refuse to believe women are as stupid as this movie portrays them 1 stars
5/24/06 ffffffffffffffffffff its romantic 4 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Taking Mr. "Sexiest man alive" down a peg is as fun as Scwarzenegger's "JUNIOR" 2 stars
9/05/05 Katie It was great! I loved it! 5 stars
4/27/05 chandrakanth k s soft ramance which is soothing 4 stars
9/14/04 Jack Sommersby TV-style development of TV-ish story premise. Well-acted, though. 2 stars
8/08/04 indian boy awesome movie one of the greatest 5 stars
9/16/03 Fluffy Ears Henkelschmidt IV Worst acting and unfunniest film of the year 1 stars
7/31/03 omar "surfur" youssef Well-casted, well-written, and well-made. A hilarious must-see! One of Gibson's finest. 5 stars
7/24/03 Kit Pretty funny movie 4 stars
7/18/03 Chris A little to commercialize but still fun as a whole. Ranges from hillarious to mild but fun. 4 stars
4/09/03 JL I thought this was a cute, light hearted movie. 3 stars
2/26/03 GMan Aaaaah....Helen Hunt....I would fuck you.... 2 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones An insult to the intelligence. Gibson is simply awful. 1 stars
12/04/02 Gazza E Really good. One of the better romantic comedies of recent years. 4 stars
10/23/02 Charles Tatum Cloying and cutesy 2 stars
7/05/02 KMG It was okay....not used to seeing Mel in anything but crime or period pieces 3 stars
6/07/02 stud good 4 stars
3/28/02 Sery I thought this movie was so cute. Helen Hunt is a great actress. Jake-the voices ARE real 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Entertaining and fun. Not profound...it wasn't meant to be. 4 stars
1/09/02 hilary awesome 5 stars
1/08/02 Mr. Hat Mel Gibson is cool. I love this movie. 5 stars
12/28/01 Jake Struck by lighting? Is that healthy? The women's voices were phony at times and annoying! 2 stars
10/02/01 Kirk Well, at least it was different. Seeing Mel in pantyhose was worth the price of admission! 4 stars
10/02/01 Andrew Carden Pretty Funny and Delightful Movie. 4 stars
9/28/01 Vanmarsenille Rohnny nice way to spend an evening 4 stars
8/28/01 Anastasiou Dimitris Give the money of your ticket to a homeless!!! 1 stars
7/29/01 Jennifer Gaissert Loved Mel dancing with the hat, but poorly written 3 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg Fit women .Crap movie . 2 stars
7/24/01 SJKelley Expectations land like a thud. MsAsh's review is ridiculous. 2 stars
7/23/01 D.R. Unresolved to me- ok "you're fired but I still love-please stay" Very good otherwise 4 stars
7/18/01 KMK no real laughs. waste of time 1 stars
7/17/01 Piz Predictable, flat, boring, no surprises, no chemistry, What were Gibson and Hunt thinking? 2 stars
6/30/01 martin this review sucks - it's a great film 5 stars
6/13/01 J Excellent Comedy but err..."not-so" excellent drama overall a good movie. 4 stars
6/12/01 Terrie Smith A couple of good moments; Gibson & Hunt lack charisma as a romantic team.. 3 stars
6/09/01 Turtle After the first, juicy hour, crap is sandwiched into the film, and the end doesn't save it. 3 stars
5/30/01 Thatguy Gibson's cool, for the first hour. The rest sucks. 2 stars
5/22/01 Monday Morning Chick flick for female Mel fans. Otherwise very unremarkable. 3 stars
5/14/01 Movie Freek Cute, but disposable. 3 stars
5/14/01 Babybelle well I loved it...nice cosy mel-ting chocolate movie 5 stars
5/09/01 The Bomb 69 fun entertainment 4 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye Who knew Mel could dance? Funny as hell to watch, if predictable. 4 stars
3/08/01 Ed Lewandowski Has its moments. Mainly boring. 3 stars
2/27/01 Matthew Bartley Echh..it was so-so 3 stars
2/20/01 voyant A few good moments, but mostly disappointing. Wait for the video. 3 stars
2/18/01 Avenger Girl Very predictable, but Mel and Helen play great roles. Worth the money to see it 4 stars
2/15/01 Michael Nicholls No...nobody wants it! 1 stars
2/10/01 Franny Streder It was so awesome. Mel Gibson is so hot. 5 stars
2/10/01 Cathy Poirier very good movie, sexy Mel 5 stars
2/09/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Thank god Mel Gibson can't read my mind...I'd be thinking very dirty thoughts. >=) 4 stars
1/23/01 Piz long AND predictable...what a combo! 2 stars
1/23/01 Christopher Ruggles This film was a great film to see. I would go and pay the 7 dollars to see it again.=-) 5 stars
1/21/01 Teresa Maloney I loved it! 4 stars
1/20/01 mazi mimir 1 stars
1/19/01 JRN516 very very good 4 stars
1/19/01 Nick Excellent 5 stars
1/16/01 Belinda Way too long. 2 stars
1/15/01 JRN516 I LIKE VERY FEW MOVIES. THIS ONE MAKDE ME FEEL GOOD THROUGH THE ENTIRE MOVIE 5 stars
1/03/01 Collegebrat19 This was a great movie I laughed the whole time. Mel Gibson gives an excellent performace. 5 stars
1/03/01 RAINBOW GREAT SHOW VERY FUNNY! DEFINATELY WORTH THE MONEY 5 stars
1/03/01 Zavon Too much crammed in to too short a space...there's a superior film trying to get out here. 3 stars
1/02/01 Hamburger the worst movie I've seen in a long time 1 stars
1/02/01 Jenny-My-Fur ok so we know helen and mel rock, but i am sorry this movie blew! 3 stars
1/01/01 Dario Better than what the critics say! 4 stars
12/30/00 Bassam So greet 4 stars
12/28/00 Sansnet Watkins I liked it; I thought the writing was pretty truthful and that Mel looked great 4 stars
12/28/00 Andrea The only funny parts were the ones already in the previews....it was dumb 1 stars
12/23/00 Monique A fantastic girly movie! 5 stars
12/21/00 orpy A few laughs, not believable but light entertainment 4 stars
12/20/00 poetcdh Good laughs, nice romantic comedy 4 stars
12/19/00 John Lyons Pretty good movie, Helen Hunt looked great! 4 stars
12/19/00 denise Great premise, poorly executed, should be titled "What stero-typical women want" 2 stars
12/18/00 fishie An Ok movie, a little thin in the storyline. Good one to wait and rent it. 4 stars
12/17/00 Angus moorehead Mel Gibson! What is the attraction? a mediocre actor, always been. 2 stars
12/16/00 Erik C. Thauvin God forbid us "men" would admit enjoying this movie. 4 stars
12/16/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Just came back from this flick. Oh my god, Mel looked better in, Man Without A Face. 1 stars
12/16/00 Louis THIS MOVIE SUCKS! 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Dec-2000 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Jan-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Jan-2001 (M)


Directed by
  Nancy Meyers

Written by
  Josh Goldsmith
  Kathy Yuspa

Cast
  Mel Gibson
  Helen Hunt
  Marisa Tomei
  Alan Alda
  Lauren Holly
  Bette Midler



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