|Mel Discovers the Woman Within|
Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt star in this romantic comedy about a male chauvinist pig (Gibson as Nick Marshall) given the opportunity to read women's minds. Hunt is Darcy Maguire, an advertising executive with a rotten reputation who gets hired as the new Creative Director - a position Nick was already uncorking the champagne to celebrate landing.
Nick is as politically incorrect as they come. He insults women, tells offensive chauvinistic jokes, and generally goes out of his way to offend the opposite sex. Passed over for a promotion and determined to undermine his new female boss's efforts, Nick schemes to outshine and outwit (that sounds a bit "Survivor"-ish) Darcy, hoping to send her back into the ranks of the unemployed.
Upon being introduced at a staff meeting as the new Director, Darcy immediately puts her team to work on thinking up new ad campaigns for women's products. Each staff member is given a box filled with feminine products and told to come up with an advertising campaign for at least one of the items. That evening, after consuming mass quantities of alcohol, Nick tackles the project by trying most of the items on himself. Nick has absolutely no clue of what women endure to make themselves beautiful. He quickly finds out when he pokes himself in the eye with the mascara wand, experiences the excruciating pain associated with waxing his legs, and learns that putting on panty hose without causing them to run is an art in and of itself. After being caught in the act by his 15-year-old daughter and her 18-year-old boyfriend, he proceeds - thru a comedy of errors - to end up in the bathtub electrocuting himself with a hairdryer. Immediately prior to being zapped he'd been asking himself what is it that women want. Somehow, thru the power of electricity, he's been granted the gift of finding the answer to that very question. For a male chauvinist like Nick, this special gift begins as more of a curse than a blessing.
The majority of the film follows Nick as he learns from his mind-reading skills, and grows from being an insensitive schmuck to becoming one of the girls. Nick's life-altering ability allows him the golden opportunity to reach out to his daughter, to stop taking women at his office for granted, and to discover that monogamy and love are for real.
Mel Gibson's take on Nick as both a throwback to men of the 1940's, and as the enlightened man of the current millennium, is right on target. He plays both angles of Nick's personality with good humor and style. Gibson carries the film with Hunt and the rest of the cast seeming to enjoy being along for the ride. Not that Hunt, Mark Feuerstein (as sidekick and co-worker, Morgan), and Alan Alda as the head honcho of the advertising firm, aren't competent in their roles; it's more that their roles seem to be overshadowed by Mel's presence. The only co-star who seems to rival Mel's presence is Marisa Tomei. Tomei portrays a coffee shop clerk, and constant object of Mel's attention. Tomei brings a bubbly, effervescent life to her character and the chemistry between she and Mel is enjoyable to witness.
Overall, "What Women Want" is a bit predictable, a bit corny, but worthwhile viewing - especially if you're a Mel Gibson fan. Let's face it - getting the chance to see Mel in nylons and witness him gracefully dance to Sinatra is worth the cost of renting the DVD/Video!
Overall Grade: C