Mel's Fortune
'What Women Want' is just a male fantasy
By Chas J. Hartman

Mel Gibson living the good life

Men screw up. That's one of those undeniable facts of life. They say something wrong, pick the wrong movie, or just don't call for six days. Often times, men don't show much emotion. They don't want to deal with problems, or even attempt to get to understand their significant other.

The stereotypical man is afraid of getting to know a woman, because he fears her complex mind. Well, what if a man could get into the woman's psyche and never make a mistake again? What Women Want is that possibility come to fruition and all its accompanying risks.

Mel Gibson plays advertising executive Nick Marshall, and it's made clear from the beginning that he's your typical heartless, male chauvinist pig. Given a power like that described above, would Marshall really listen to women and become more compassionate? No, he would see it as just another advantage in the game to bang as many chicks as possible.

It becomes obvious in the film's first 15 minutes that Marshall is in fact going to receive the power to hear what women think. All in all, is it going to be his damnation or ultimate good luck charm? Is it really safe for a man to hear thousands, if not millions, of random thoughts from women on a daily basis?

What makes a film like this somewhat dicey is how the special power is handled. Is the power explained enough so that it's full capabilities are understood? Do we understand just how the lucky recipient is able to obtain the special power? Screenwriters Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa are the responsible parties when it comes to whether or not this supernatural comedy is the least bit believable.

Unfortunately, What Women Want fails at its heart. It never does quite explain what women are looking for in a man. Instead, it shows how one man can manipulate women based simply on what they think. Basically, this is a film about betraying women with their own thoughts in the work place, in the bed, and even in the father-daughter relationship.

It is quite humorous to watch the transformation of Marshall into the all-knowing man. I mean what isn't funny about watching Mel Gibson prance around in panty hose while singing Meredith Brook's "Bitch?" Even better is the hair-waxing scene. All of this leads up to the special moment where Marshall's life is changed forever.

Based strictly on romantic comedy value and inspired acting, this film manages to succeed. Nothing is better than watching Marshall squirm, as a group of female joggers surround him on a city walkway. With their multitudes of thoughts flooding his mind, Marshall is unable to do anything but bend over and hold his head in agony.

Aside from failing at its premise, What Women Want witnesses the long-awaited return of the adorable actress Marisa Tomei. What exactly happened to her after My Cousin Vinny? Well, for starters she rid herself of that nauseating New York accent, of which there are no traces in this film. Also, her nicely dressed character named Lola works in a coffee shop, which seems even more appropriate for the simplistic, yet eye-catching Tomei.

In addition to Tomei's return to film, What Women Want is Helen Hunt's successful follow-up to her Academy Award-winning performance in As Good As It Gets. Hunt plays the beautiful and sophisticated ad exec Darcy McGuire. McGuire is Marshall's arch nemesis in the advertising world, but they are inevitably forced to work together because Marshall's boss, Dan (Alan Alda), sees a woman's perspective as the key to succeeding in the modern advertising world.

Hunt and Gibson have good chemistry onscreen, and that ultimately saves What Women Want from being a poorly conceived film about a special power. If you can forget for a moment that Marshall is hearing everything McGuire thinks, then you have a decent romantic comedy. Essentially, this romance matches up a smooth-talking, confident man with an unsuspecting woman. Marshall doesn't need the special power anyway, but without it, McGuire wouldn't even entertain thoughts of dating him.

Women leaving this film are guaranteed to still see men as insensitive, single-minded idiots. Men won't have a better understanding of women, but they'll dream about one day knowing what women think. That's not going to happen, but this is the ultimate male fantasy movie.