What Women Want gives the audience the romance they want, but this reviewer would’ve appreciated more laughs in the comedy department. This romantic comedy represents Mel Gibson’s first foray into the romantic comedy genre. Gibson stars as Nick Marshall, a chauvinistic advertising executive who gains a unique characteristic after a freak accident. Helen Hunt pairs up with Gibson as his competing co-worker, Darcy Maguire. Marshall’s emotions travel full circle as he questions his special gift, then abuses it, and finally sees how it changes his life.
Gibson’s feature scene, where he performs to music from the “Chairman of the Board”, showcases the high level of talent and charisma he brings to the screen. Some of the film’s two hours and seven minute length could’ve been edited down with deletions of some unnecessary, but entertaining, scenes.
Gibson’s supporting cast includes Alan Alda, Marshall’s boss; Marisa Tomei, a coffeehouse employee; Mark Feuerstein, Nick’s colleague/friend; and Bette Midler, Marshall’s psychiatrist. Tomei’s character, Lola, has an awkward introduction, unfortunately compounded with awkward dialogue in a role that only exists to mirror Nick’s former desires for women. Midler has one memorable scene with Nick in her office, but then disappears from the plot.
Lauren Holly (Dragon, Dumb & Dumber, Any Given Sunday) has a small role as Marshall’s wife, Gigi and Ashley Johnson (Nine Months, Anywhere But Here) plays his fifteen-year-old daughter, Alex. The plot’s main focus stays on Gibson, but it would’ve been nice to see some stronger supporting roles.
The film’s director, Nancy Meyers (Private Benjamin, Baby Boom) shows a nice flare for character placement and lighting. The cinematographer should be commended for some great visual moments including an interior dinner scene. Meyers tries to stress the change in Nick’s life by showing similar shots of him walking through the office before and after his life-changing incident. This well intended feature doesn’t have a great impact, but it’s nice to see a director put some visual impact into the plot.
The crowd pleasing What Women Want was filmed in Los Angeles and Chicago and will most likely initiate some very interesting conversations about relationships and dating. Gibson benefits greatly from a charismatic comic role that extends his overall popularity and acting talent into charming comedies. Recommended and rated PG-13.