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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.

I enjoyed it at the movies, and I enjoyed it even more at home on DVD. It's a lightweight romantic comedy and a different kind of vehicle for Mel Gibson, who dons his Fred Astaire hat surrounded by Frank Sinatra tunes. In fact we learn that Frank Sinatra's favourite colour is orange, which is accented throughout the film. The premise that Gibson's character can hear women's thoughts is fun and Gibson and Helen Hunt make a compelling couple. But the gag goes even further – even French Poodles have minds that this Romeo can read. There is no doubt that many have attempted to guess what is it that women want, and while men undoubtedly will come up with a blank, women will be the first to agree that the fairer sex is totally unpredictable. There is no logic behind the female mind! And that isn't offered as an apology! It is a fact. And what fun the script writers had with this zany concept!

It's true that the script lacks subtlety, but there are so many enjoyable moments with such a wonderful cast, that much is forgiven. Gibson knows how to ooze the charm, while Hunt is the epitome of the intelligent, feminine woman who is in control of her life. Marisa Tomei is a great asset, as is Bette Midler, whose cameo as the unwitting shrink is simply delicious. Her facial expression as she realises her patient can read her mind is absolutely wonderful. But it's great casting all round with the likes of Alan Alda and Lauren Holly as Gibson's ex-wife.

Of course it's all pretty silly, but if you want a no-brainer that helps you tune out, What Women Want will probably fit the bill. The film looks great, the soundtrack is upbeat and the sets are gorgeous.

Features? Further to the usual trailer, teaser trailer and the cast/crew bios, there's a bouncy, entertaining commentary by director/producer Nancy Meyers and Production Designer Jon Hutman. Meyers and Hutman describe much of the philosophy behind the making of the film. In fact listening to them chatting and enthusing about various aspects of the film – from the casting to little secrets along the way – certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the film. How did the Sean Connery impersonation come about? Meyers had heard Gibson do an impersonation on the set and went about finding a clip from a Connery movie that they could include. That's the best part of the extras, but if you want more, there's a rather cheesy Andrew Warne Showtime segment, a making of/behind the scenes feature, and A Look Inside which offers some short interviews with cast and crew.
Louise Keller

Published June 28, 2001

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MEL GIBSON Press Conference


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

DIRECTOR: Nancy Meyers

RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 20, 2001

Director & Production Designer's Commentary; Showtime interviews with Andrew Warne; A Look Inside; The Making of; Theatrical Trailers; Biographies – Cast & Crew

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