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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, September 18, 2014 - Edition No 915 
Reckoning

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WHAT WOMEN WANT

SYNOPSIS:
Advertising executive and womanising bachelor Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) receives an electric shock which makes it possible for him to hear women’s thoughts. Passed over for promotion in favour of hot-shot newcomer Darcey McGuire (Helen Hunt), Nick decides to use his newly acquired powers to sabotage Darcey's position. Complications ensue when Nick finds himself falling for Darcey.

"Propelled by a toe tapping swing soundtrack, What Woman Want is a lightweight, fun vehicle for Mel Gibson, whose recent roles have been eminently more serious. Although it certainly would benefit from a shorter running time, there are some delightful moments and the Gibson/Hunt casting works well. It's the sort of role Frank Sinatra could have played –and would no doubt have been talking about 'broads' instead of 'babes'. Gibson does it well, yet the direction is a little heavy handed: some scenes would work better with a lighter touch. It's a cute concept and if we ask the title's question, we discover that we are all a pretty mixed up bunch. We women are emotionally hyperactive, making decisions with our hearts, while men are hard nosed, ambitious chauvinists, who only discover what is important through their feminine side. The scenes in which women's thoughts pervade Gibson's mental space are a lot of fun; it's almost like an avalanche of PMT angst. Gibson is surprisingly lithe on his feet and the Gene Kelly inspired scene is an entertaining interlude. If you're looking for a no-brainer with some laughs and a cute premise, this will certainly fit the bill. Class acts Bette Midler, Alan Alda and Marisa Tomei steal their scenes and the entire film is easy on the eye, with super sets, production design and a strong support cast. It's rather silly of course, but sometimes silly may be what the doctor ordered, and if it makes the endorphins work, well that's what this woman wants!"
Louise Keller

"Sinatra croons the film’s theme song, I’ve Got You Under My Skin at the start, and someone else sings it – occasionally growling with a contempo sensibility – at the end. The film itself, however, never got under MY skin, except as an irritant. The premise of a man discovering his real, un-sexist, sensitive and caring self through a symbolic series of revelations about what women think (don’t look for the answer of what they want), is not so bad in itself, given the 30s, 40s or even 50s and a Hollywood with wit. Today’s Hollywood is witless and turns basically good ideas into mush. Ironic that a film about men listening, should turn a deaf ear to originality, character and story telling…..while directed by a woman. Mel Gibson should have sacked himself when he had the chance early in the film, as prompted. There he is waking up from another good bad night when his cleaning lady turns up. He condescendingly calls her Babe, and she quips back that she’s no little piggy. The cinematic in joke overshadows the real message: stop hamming it up, Mel. But he doesn’t listen. The mood that is generated by the old swing era songs suggests that somebody wanted this film to feel like a story about an old fashioned, basically harmless playboy of another era. The script and the direction, however, don’t swing. Overripe and over-manipulated as it is, What Women Want has a few moments that pass for insight and sincerity – but only in passing. While the supporting cast is excellent, that’s like having a great salad with a second rate main meal. I don’t mean the film is lousy; certainly some of the audience at the preview I attended laughed and seemed to enjoy it. (Perhaps they were laughing to try and keep warm; after waiting for almost 30 minutes for the film to start, we had to endure two hours of arctic winds from the air conditioner in Cinema 4 at Sydney’s Hoyts-Village Centre. I mention this as a caution.) Everything in this film is too obvious and too BIG to let the audience enjoy anything of their own discovery. So if you feel in an easy to please mood, you may enjoy it."
Andrew L. Urban

"When will Hollywood learn that a one-joke comedy like What Women Want simply doesn't warrant a 126 minute running time? If "what's wrong with mainstream movies at the moment?" is the question - the bloated durations of lightweight, star-driven vehicles like this is the first answer. Hasn't anyone noted that Woody Allen has never made a film that stretched into a three-figure running time. So do audiences get what they want in the two-hours plus it takes for Mel Gibson to transform from a chauvanist pig to a kinder, gentler advertising executive after receiving a much needed jolt to his system? Probably, but not with the rapid-fire consistency promised by the trailer which crams in every really funny moment and doesn't leave too many big laughs for the long-form version. Gibson and Hunt are both capable funsters and they work hard to energise a fairly sluggish script which goes off on far too many tangents. Gibson's problems with his daughter's prom-night traumas and his concern for mousey office worker Eve (Delta Burke), who's contemplating suicide, are roadblocks preventing this from being the compact and snappy modern day screwball farce it wants to be. There is chemistry between the leads and even some sizzle as the inevitable attraction unfolds; it's just a pity the filmmakers felt it necessary to throw in so much tiresome side detail. As a popcorn crowd pleaser, What Women Want does its job reasonably well although I suspect it won't quite deliver the expected box-office goldmine once audiences look at their watches and realise there's still another half hour to go."
Richard Kuipers



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

MEL GIBSON at the press conference.

TRAILER

WHAT WOMEN WANT (M)
(US)

CAST: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Alan Alda, Marisa Tomei, Lauren Holly, Mark Feurstein

DIRECTOR: Nancy Meyers

PRODUCER: Nancy Meyers, Matt Williams, Susan Cartsonis, Gina Matthews, Bruce Davey

SCRIPT: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa (story by Diane Drake)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Cundey ASC

EDITOR: Stephen A. Rotter, Thomas J. Nordberg

MUSIC SUPERVISOR: Bonnie Greenberg Goodman

COMPOSER: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Hutman

RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 11, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Ent

VIDEO RELEASE: June 20, 2001

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