Reviewer: Andrew Manning (12/00)|
As surprising as this may be, there are actually people out there who don't seem to know that this movie is a chick flick. After all, what would give it away? It's only written, directed, and produced by a woman and centers on the clueless psyche of a chauvinistic male. But take heart, all my penis-packing brethren: your women could be dragging you to a far worse cinematic fate.
While What Women Want is undeniably a chick flick, the action moves quickly and with brisk humor thanks to Mel Gibson. As the conveniently described "man's man," Gibson's character of high powered, woman seducing Nick Marshall gains the power to hear what women are thinking after a freak accident: while reluctantly testing out women's products (such as nail polish, pantyhose, wonderbras, and bikini wax), he falls into a tub with a live hair dryer. The electrical shock turns something on in his brain that allows him to hear women's thoughts, and he quickly uses the power to further his own career.
The pace of the movie is brisk and even...until the end. In the last thirty minutes of the film, all of Nick's problems come crashing down at once: a suicidal young woman mysteriously disappears from his office one morning, his daughter's first prom experience goes horribly awry, and Darcy gets fired from the ad firm. While the convergence of all these problems makes the movie feel horribly uneven, the way the problems are handled is somewhat worse: Nick tackles each of them in a quick, linear fashion, solving them one at a time, back to back, in neat, packaged scenes: confronts the suicidal chick, fixes the problem; confronts his daughter, fixes the problem; confronts an unemployed Helen Hunt, fixes the problem. BAM, BAM, BAM, thank you ma'ams...
Of the three resolutions, the one involving his new love Darcy is surprisingly the least moving. When the suicidal young woman whimpers about her situation, you feel for her. When Nick's daughter is in tears in the bathroom and he tells her, "You are so much smarter than I am," you feel for them. But when Nick rattles off a speech about integrity and love and begs Darcy's forgiveness, you feel...well, "not so much," to quote Helen Hunt's TV husband.