What Women Want

What Women Want

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Mel Gibson has been aching to play comedy for ages. He was daft as a brush in The Lethals and refused to take Maverick seriously. Even Hamlet had his tongue in cheek. Now, in this frothy romantic runaround, he does it all, from a Gene Kelly dance routine to a thumbnail Sean Connery impersonation.

Two things are obvious: he's loving every minute and is extremely good at it. The laidback charm, which softens his dramatic roles, comes in handy.

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Nick Marshall is a confident, successful adman, with a busted marriage and a teenage daughter, who has been spoiled by women all his life. As a result, he finds long-term relationships - anything over a couple of days - too much like hard work, especially when there's so much talent out there.

He could have been a smarm cake, like Peter Gallagher. He could have been power hungry, like Michael Douglas. Instead, he's playful and flattering and fun. You can forgive a guy like this a lot and you do. He smokes. Wow! Smoking in mainstream Hollywood is definitely off-limits and yet he gets away with it.

The story's fun, too. Nick's boss (Alan Alda) decides that a female perspective is vital for a 21st century advertising agency - "If you know what women want, you can rule" - and headhunts Darcy Maguire to take the job Nick has his eye on, that of creative director.

After an electric storm, Nick discovers he can hear people's thoughts, which is scary, but valuable. Using this extra-sensory tool, he endeavours to outsmart Darcy on the next big account.

You've guessed what happens. Instead of being "a bitch on wheels", as expected, the beautiful Darcy is everything he ever wanted, which makes him nervous.

Helen Hunt looks more ravishing by the movie - she won an Oscar for As Good As It Gets, was Tom Hanks' wife in Cast Away and a Las Vegas single mother bar waitress in Pay It Forward. Her acting is never lazy, nor lightweight.

She compliments Gibson by not letting him steal their scenes. No one does that to her. Consequently, he shows respect and together they give a film that looks unprepossessing, judging by the poster, real class.

Reviewed on: 02 Feb 2001
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What Women Want packshot
A chauvinist has an accident which leaves him able to hear what women think.
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Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa

Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Mark Feuerstein, Lauren Holly, Alan Alda

Year: 2000

Runtime: 126 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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