Ossus Library Index Comedy Index

WHAT WOMEN WANT

Directed by Nancy Meyers (2000, Paramount Pictures)
Starring Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, and Alan Alda

A chauvinistic advertising executive suddenly learns about sensitivity when a bizarre accident leaves him with the ability to read women's minds.

View count: Twice

 

 

3+ stars+

May 31st, 2005 on TV  
    I seem to have said it all below. This movie remained funny throughout, though it felt rather slow somewhere around the middle. The best uses of the comedy were definitely where Nick was learning to be a decent human being, through the opinions of others, learning that he actually didn't know everything about everyone.

I have a small question about logistics, however: if Nick hired the copy girl, and Darcy fired Nick, where does that leave the poor girl? Undoubtedly, Darcy will give her the job.

Definitely worth watching twice.

 

 

4 stars

March 23rd, 2001 in the Theatre  
    Truly enjoyable, very funny, the characters are well laid out, and grow during the process.

Strange how I should go on and on about how relationships grow on screen, only to be set back by an unlikely or unjustified set of events, where people are too stupid or self-pitying that they discard a perfectly good relationship for no reason. And then I watch Return to Me, a drama where the relationship gets into trouble because of something beyond their control, and now this one, for which the main character tries to fix the relationship before it breaks down, only to find that he's too late.

It all seemed so natural. 

Of course, most of the funniest scenes were shown in the movie preview. But they were still hilarious, and there were plenty of others that made us laugh out loud all throughout. 

Mel Gibson does a good job of being Nick, a womanizing jerk before he gets his revelation. He "accidentally" touches women's breasts, hits on every woman he sees, and generally speaks his mind, never realizing, or caring, that the world doesn't see him as the grand master of all he thinks he is. So it comes as a giant shock when a woman from outside the company, Darcy, is hired to be his boss. When she hands out a package containing all sorts of women's stuff as homework, hoping to get ideas for better marketing, Nick gets drunk instead. 

But while he's drunk, he decides to try it out, get into a woman's skull. And this is by far the funniest scene in the entire movie. Gibson takes more than ten minutes to show us how feminine he can get (not very), and it peaks when his daughter and her boyfriend show up with him wearing panty hose and a bra, not to mention lipstick, eye shadow, and others. 

He goes through the day horrified that he can hear women's thoughts, mostly, I think, because he finds out that not everyone adores him. But there is a touching softness to this as well, as when he stops suddenly when he hears the thoughts of a copy-girl who is suicidal. He gives it no further thought as the rest of the day goes on, but he will return to her again and again later.

Still horrified by the end of the day, he tries to recreate the experiment that gave him this bane, complete with waxing his leg and electrocution by hair dryer. It doesn't work, but it is very funny.

It is true to character that Nick would visit a psychiatrist to help him get rid of his mind-reading abilities, only to be given a suggestion that he use the gift to learn how to better himself. He would have never thought of this himself! 

He enjoys himself as he steals ideas from Darcy, while admiring her body at the same time. He also notices that she's checking him out. He learns how to give while having sex when he goes on a date with a coffee barista, which is hilarious in itself. And when she shows up a week later, convinced that either he's dumped her or that he's gay, he feels so bad for her that he has to tell her that he's gay! 

For he's fallen in love, somewhere along the line, with Darcy. They make out in a bar all night long, and he doesn't take advantage of her when he hears her thinking that she wants to invite him back to her place afterwards. Like a true gentleman, he says goodnight. 

Meanwhile, Nick has been taking Darcy's ideas and presenting them to their boss before she can, leading their boss to wonder why he hired her in the first place. When she's fired, she accepts it, because there was not one idea that she came up with that Nick hadn't done first. 

Nick is devastated. He was just about to get up the nerve to reveal everything when he learns about Darcy's layoff. He travels throughout the city looking for her, without success. At the same time, the copy girl doesn't show up for work that day, and he knows why. 

This, more than anything, shows the growth of the character, as he tracks the girl down and offers her a more meaningful job before she can kill herself. And when lightning strikes nearby, he loses his gift. But he no longer needs it. He has saved the copy-girl and confessed to Darcy (who fires him, but still wants their relationship to continue). It was really warming to see this.

Mixed in there was a very cute and funny sub-plot with Nick's daughter, who wants to go to the prom with her older boyfriend. Nick walks in when the two are making out; later he sees his daughter and some friends looking at prom dresses, and decides to become the hero dad by offering to pay for dress, shoes and makeup, after it is suggested to him by the girls' thoughts. He falls over when hearing his daughter's thoughts about losing her virginity, and fails miserably when trying to talk to her about sex (the women watching and listening to them have some wonderful thoughts on the matter after The Talk is over). 

True, there wasn't much to the story, except redemption through Divine intervention. And I liked that. The story was simple enough that it didn't require anything else. There was one main plot (with Darcy) and two subplots, all of which were resolved to a satisfying degree. All of the main characters were great, but most especially, this was Mel Gibson's movie. He showed a great range here, from the womanizer at the beginning to a point where he's having coffee break with the girls, resolving all their men problems, because he knows how a man would act.

And when his gift is gone, he doesn't need it anymore. Through his daughter, he realizes how much he hates who he was. Through Darcy, he learned intimacy and professionalism. Through his one-night stand, he learned to share, to try and please others. And through the copy girl, he learned to value other life. And I respect that. Somehow, all throughout, the movie remained funny, too. And I loved that.
 
   

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