Directed by: Nancy Meyers | 127 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Alan Alda, Ashley Johnson, Mark Feuerstein, Lauren Holly, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer, Sarah Paulson, Ana Gasteyer, Lisa Edelstein, Loretta Devine, Diana-Maria Riva
“It’s a great feeling, but I’m not going to do any breakneck speed to win another Oscar,” said Mel Gibson a few years after he scored as a director and producer at The Academy with his Scottish heroic “Braveheart” (1995). The fact is, however, that the Australian actor shrinks from little. As an action hero in “Mad Max” (1979), “The Patriot” (2000) and the “Lethal Weapon” series, he has already managed to save the world from destruction. That he is also not afraid to show his feminine side, we see in the romantic comedy “What Women Want” (2000), in which we see the masculine Mel shaving his legs and even walking around in tights for a moment. In that film he tries to get through to the world of thoughts of women, but whether he can manage that … Gibson in a press conference on the occasion of “What Women Want”: “I still don’t understand much about them.”
Gibson play Nick Marshall, a slick charmer with a soft spot for Sinatra. He easily winds any woman around his finger, but drops them as easily as a brick. He is unaware of his selfish attitude. Nick thinks he’s great and expects everyone around him to agree. Nick doesn’t understand his vicious ex-wife and his hateful daughter. He works at an advertising agency, where he has the prospect of a major promotion. At least, he thinks so. The opposite appears to be the case. Indeed, his company is hiring Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) for the position. Research has shown that the main target audience for advertisers is women and the company believes that a woman in the post in question can only benefit the campaigns. Nick feels – of course – his manhood is affected, does not want to give in and therefore fully indulges in an assignment he has received from Darcy. However, that goes completely wrong and Nick makes an ugly fall that causes him to lose consciousness. When he wakes up the next day, he is suddenly able to read the minds of women. At first he is shocked by this new gift, but soon he sees the benefits. He uses his gift against Darcy, but as he continues to delve into her personality and gradually falls in love with her, he starts to feel guilty about this.
“What Women Want” lives up to all the standard clichés you would expect in a romantic comedy; charm and humor are mixed with not always credible plot twists and the adventures always end well, of course. Director Nancy Meyers – known for similar light-hearted work like ‘Private Benjamin’ (1980), ‘Father of the Bride’ (1991) and ‘The Parent Trap’ (1998) – cleverly played it through box office guns Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt and they do a solid but not spectacular job. Gibson as a clumsy womanizer is of course well cast, but Helen Hunt, who plays Darcy, never reaches her level of “As Good As It Gets”. Bit parts by Marisa Tomei, Alan Alda and Bette Midler, among others, are nice but not memorable. Just like the whole movie is nice but does not last. The plot is too thin and too clichéd for that. The differences between men and women are portrayed very black and white at the beginning of the film, and are then completely brushed off at the end. But however you turn or turn it, men and women are two completely different beings. That changes the fact that Mel Gibson suddenly knows exactly what women think nothing about.
“What Women Want” is not only lighthearted but also fleeting entertainment. When you have seen the film you will soon forget it.