Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt
Director: Nancy Meyers
NICK Marshall (Mel Gibson) is a predator. An advertising executive by day and a womaniser by night, he stalks clients and women alike, devouring ideas and sexual conquests because he needs to bolster his fragile ego.
His wife walked out on him, his daughter can’t stand him and he gets Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) as his boss, because in the advertising game, she knows what women want.
In one of the more contrived plot lines of a film in recent years, while testing out various products for women that Darcy thinks the firm must pitch for, Nick is electrocuted. When he comes to, he can read women’s minds (even the thoughts of female dogs!).
This turns Nick into a sensitive new age guy around the office, at home, with his girlfriends and his daughter. They love him because now he knows what women want.
Made by Mel Gibson’s Icon Films, What Women Want is a big budget production. It has terrific sets, fine Chicago locations, a great soundtrack and an excellent support cast in Hunt, Alan Alda and Marisa Tomei.
Mel Gibson, however, does not convince us that he can make the journey from sexist warrior to liberated psychic back to reconstructed new age guy.
There are a few funny and moving scenes in this film, but What Women Want trades on the belief that women are essentially different to men and as a result they are contrary, difficult to understand and deceitful about their feelings and desires.
What women want, it seems, is a man who can save them and in doing so remind them they are really secondary, dependent and ancillary.
The only redeeming feature of this film is that it gives us all an equal opportunity to be offended.