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What Women Want
2000 - PG-13 - 120 Mins.
Director: Nancy Meyers
Producer: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa, Stephen McEveety, David McFadzean, Bruce Davey, Gina Matthews, Matt Williams, Nancy Meyers, Susan Cartsonis
Written By: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa, Diane Drake, Nancy Meyers
Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Lauren Holly, Marisa Tomei, Bette Midler
Review by: David Trier
   
And the worst film of 2000 is...? What Women Want beating Hollow Man by a nose! From the previews, this was a sure sell for me to take my wife to. Pure unadulterated mindless fluff. But as I winced and grimaced at the screen, I fell in love again when I turned and saw her hating it.

The story revolves around ad executive Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson), a wealthy, pompous, chauvenist, alcoholic, absentee father, cigarette smoking prick nearing middle age. As the face of advertising is changing to accomodate female consumers, the big promotion goes to Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt), a marketing hotshot who starts by passing out women's products to the staff with a homework assignment to come up with something interesting. Despite the fact that Marshall should be spending time with his daughter (Ashley Johnson) who's staying with him while his ex-wife (Lauren Holly) remarries, he decides to go on a drunken binge and try on the products. Like a gift from God, he finally falls over into the bathtub with a plugged-in blow dryer and is electrocuted. The movie should have ended here. But no. He wakes up, and as this is the sort of thing that happens when you get an electric shock, he intermittently hears the thoughts of women as if they were speaking. At first this really freaks him out, but soon discovers this to be a great way to swindle his female boss out of her ideas and her job, not to mention a fantastic opportunity to humiliate women and con them into having sex with him. But there's one problem. He feels guilty having destroyed Darcy's life because he's in love with her, and she loves him (because he's been reading her mind and pretending to be sensitive). In the end, he gets electrocuted again for no apparent reason and loses his "gift" before offering Darcy a half-assed no-explanation apology which she wholeheartedly accepts because women are spineless. They kiss, cue Sinatra (another great lover of women), roll credits.

So the moral of this story is as far as I could tell: If men could actually hear what women were thinking, they could do whatever they wanted to them and women would deserve it because they're all stupid. This is supposed to be uplifting? This is romance? I don't expect much from a romantic comedy. Just two things really, romance and comedy. But What Women Want doesn't have either. For romance, we're expected to care about a user like Marshall and a sucker like McGuire. For comedy, we're forced to tolerate the rarely funny but constantly exploited men-behaving-like-women-when-they're-not-really-gay jokes.

I like Mel Gibson. Unlike most mega-stars of his stature, Gibson has genuine range and ability. He's not on my list of infallibles, but he's a good moviestar that rarely detracts from a film. And Helen Hunt, oh Helen, despite being an apparent cast pre-requisite and having been prematurely raised to the stature of greatest actress of all time, is still a strong and authentic performer. But it's hard to approve of either of them in this movie when their character bios seem written in crayon. Marisa Tomei has a small part, but probably the most interesting, playing one of Marshall's victims. If anyone deserves praise for this complete and utter waste of celluloid, it's her. Although Ashley Johnson deserves mention for bringing some honesty to the cartoonishly bitter yet naive daughter character. One of the biggest crimes is casting infallible-actor Alan Alda as the company CEO without giving him anything interesting to do or say. I've met ad execs and they're interesting people, so what gives?

If this is "what women want," then they are either sorely misrepresented by female filmakers or, sadly, accurately represented by male ones.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

 
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