Go to Homepage   What Women Want: Anything but Mel


Crescent Blues Book ViewsParamount Home Video (DVD), ASIN: B00003CXQS
Although directed and co-written by women, this sorry flick should have been titled, "What Women Shouldn't Want." The movie pretty much depends upon the premise that Mel Gibson is cute, and for starters, a visibly aging Mel Gibson, anointed here with too much makeup and hairspray, should no longer be playing "cute." Plus, no self-respecting woman should want a man like Mel's Nick Marshall, a character who tries too hard to charm us into believing that ruining a woman's career will win her heart, and that we should forgive him for his boorishness because he looks like…well, Mel Gibson.

movie: what women wantMarshall embodies the outwardly engaging but misogynistic jerk who goes for cheap thrills, tells sexist jokes and refuses to take no for an answer from any woman. But eventually, even Marshall's charmed life takes a bad turn. After taking temporary custody of his resentful 15-year-old daughter while his ex-wife honeymoons, Marshall loses the plum job of creative director at his ad agency to a woman named Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt), who he characterizes as a "man-eater" and a "bitch on wheels" before they even meet.

Unfortunately for Hunt, the role of Darcy proves to be about as interesting as your grandmother's wallpaper. Hunt tries hard to imbue her cardboard character with some spark, but indifferent writing eventually wears her down. Only once does she show a flash of the comedic timing and charm the casting agent probably hired her for.

Through a ridiculous, slapsticky accident, Nick wakes up the next morning with the ability to read women's minds. Quickly realizing he can use this to his own great advantage, he sets in motion a plan to discredit Darcy by stealing all of her ideas and submitting them to clients first. He gets the accolades; she eventually gets the axe.

To show character development, we see Nick taking his daughter shopping and providing female coworkers with spot-on romantic advice, but the latter comes off as irretrievably sleazy because he invades their private thoughts to do so. When Darcy falls for Nick because she thinks they have so much in common -- based on the fact that he reads her mind -- the sleaze factor rises even more.

The filmmakers try halfheartedly to create a romance between Nick and Darcy, by showing them working late hours together, sharing champagne, and singing Sinatra tunes, but the characters never connect on an emotional level. Their big make-out session radiates about as much sex and passion as …your grandmother's wallpaper.

At the end of the film, we're supposed to think Nick experiences an epiphany and becomes a changed man, because he abruptly becomes a savior to several female characters. Unfortunately, none of these allegedly smart and funny women (except his daughter) needed him to save them, so this ploy to make us like him seems forced and distasteful. The final scene shows Nick and Darcy in a clinch, as the camera pulls away into her bland, characterless and almost empty apartment -- a good metaphor for this movie.

Rebecca Gerard

Click here to share your views.