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With: 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
Written by: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa, Diane Drake
Directed by: Nancy Meyers
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Running Time: 127
Date: 12/13/2000

What Women Want (2000)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Thought Knot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This Christmas, Hollywood assaults us with two supernatural romantic comedies in which a repugnant man is changed for the better by some unexplained mystical force. The Family Man is the slightly better of the two. What Women Want is something that no one should want.

In What Women Want Mel Gibson is a chauvinistic playboy advertising agent who was raised by a Vegas showgirl. He gets all the ladies and doesn't worry about much of anything (it helps that he looks like Mel Gibson). When he loses his promotion to a woman (Helen Hunt), he suddenly receives the power to hear women's thoughts.

The movie, written and directed by Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap) takes forever to get off the ground. It takes fifteen or twenty minutes before we find out that Mel isn't going to get his promotion, even though he wanders around getting ready to celebrate in advance (he may as well have been carrying a sign saying "I'm not going to get the promotion"). After a half hour or so, he gets the magic powers, and then the movie has some good, funny scenes.

But, of course, the powers only last long enough for him to learn about how to be a great guy. Once they're gone, we still have 45 more minutes of movie, waiting for him to wrap up all the various messy subplots he's cooked up. He has to resolve a one-night stand he's had with a coffee shop girl (Marisa Tomei), save his teenage daughter's disastrous prom night, rescue a suicidal co-worker from certain death, and fix his problems with Hunt. It's all pretty dull. Moreover, it's yet another Hollywood romantic comedy peppered with Frank Sinatra songs.

Gibson has a particularly good song-and-dance scene to the tune of a Frank Sinatra song. And Tomei gives one of those firecracker performances that snagged her an Oscar in 1992 for My Cousin Vinny.

Those few good scenes are not enough to redeem What Women Want. I would say that if you're laying on the couch next Christmas half-asleep from gorging yourself on chocolates or turkey dinner and the movie comes on cable, you could not change the channel and be okay. Otherwise, save your money.

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