What Women Want (2000)

WHAT WOMEN WANT, an overlong, overstuffed, Mars/Venus comedy that's 
more chick-flick than Lethal side-splitter, is 100-proof, pure Mel.  
Gibson's all smilin' swagger and cocky charisma in this one-- plus 
plenty of wide-eyed double takes-- playing a Chicago ad man and con-
summate womanizer who, one day, suddenly starts hearing their 
thoughts.  First he freaks (and funnily so), then he gets bummed 
(learning, gasp!, he's a chauvinist), and finally hits his stride, 
forming (female) friendships, reconciling with his (teenage) daugh-
ter, and attracting (albeit while undercutting) his less-than-belov-
ed (by him) new boss (Helen Hunt, in her 300th leading role of the 
year).  Hilarity ensues and, though Mel doesn't start "hearing" for 
a full thirty minutes, early amusements include Gibson getting drunk 
and experimenting with... hot wax, among other feminine beauty pro-
ducts.  (And with the ladies in the house roaring the loudest.)  The 
best bits, by far, involve Mel's mind-reading, particularly when 
"receiving" unexpected criticism.  Like a laugh out-loud love scene 
with a reality-checking Marisa Tomei.  (Where's *she* been hiding, 

Quite a few *non* comic scenes, too, and most of 'em in the second 
hour, when Gibson and Hunt start spending more time together.  Eh,
these far, *far* lighter-played moments have their charm, too, de-
spite Nancy Myers overactive direction and one seriously overstuffed 
story.  (The soundtrack is also problematic, periodically playing 
both background music and foreground dialogue at the same volume, 
causing each to practically drown the other out.)  Mel makes it all
work, as he always does, effortlessly entertaining us at every turn.
His co-star, however, is horribly misplaced.  Hunt looks all wrong 
wearing heavy make-up and clad in casual corporate threads.  Nor is 
there even the *slightest* bit of chemistry between her and Gibson.
The smaller roles are better bets, like Ashley Johnson as a fifteen 
year-old who actually *looks* fifteen, and Alan Alda as the boss's 
boss slash Woody Allen sound-alike.  Bette Midler also has a memor-
able cameo as Gibson's freaked-out therapist.  A lass, if only the 
last third of the movie weren't so damn dull.  Nope, no funnies in 
the finale Mel, nor palatable passion with Hunt.  Just the method-
ical wrapping of three, count 'em *three* seriously-played subplots.  
Yawn.  Oh, and for sci-fi minded nit-pickers in the audience, since 
when does telepathy work over the telephone?  Don't be a Freud.  
(Rated "PG-13"/125 min.)
Grade: C+

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros