Paranormal Romance — Movie Review
What Women Want
A Romantic Comedy Classic
Whether you like, love, or loathe Mel Gibson, there’s no denying that the man has made some great movies. And while What Women Want is a far cry from the battles and glory of Braveheart, it is an enjoyable romantic comedy worth your consideration. Released in 2000, What Women Want has held its own despite the passage of time, and except for a few advances in technology and popular culture, it manages not to feel dated.
At the core of the story is Nick Marshall (Gibson), a typical man’s man. Nick’s a bit of a chauvinist, more than slightly sexist and, as the audience soon discovers, pretty much 100% clueless about what women really feel, need, and want. Whether it’s his ruined marriage, dismal love life, or the strained relationship with his teenage daughter, it’s abundantly clear that Nick Marshall is at a loss when it comes to dealing with any woman he isn’t actively seducing.
When the film opens, we meet Nick as he excitedly prepares for a promotion at the advertising agency where he works. For years, he’s excelled at designing ads that target men, so it comes as something of a shock when he’s passed over for promotion in favor of a new employee recruited to the agency specifically to broaden their appeal among women. Enter Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt), a sharp, witty, beautiful career woman with a knack for advertising to the fairer sex. Fans of romantic comedy will appreciate the humor that ensues.
Simultaneously smitten and feeling more than slightly threatened by this usurper of his promotion, Nick doesn’t know quite what to do about the situation—that is, until a freak accident turns his world upside down. After electrocuting himself in the bathtub while testing a number of woman-oriented products, our dear chauvinist awakes to discover he has a new ability: the power to hear women’s thoughts. Is it a blessing, or a curse?
Sprinkled amidst the comedy and romance, viewers are also treated to surprisingly real snippets of the various character’s backgrounds. This includes Nick and Darcy, of course, but also reaches out to encompass Nick’s daughter, the flirtatious coffee barista Lola, and Erin, a suicidal secretary working at the ad agency. These little additions help to round out this film, giving it some additional depth and character amidst the lighthearted romance.
During the rest of the film, the audience will laugh, cringe, and ultimately root for Nick as he comes to terms with some harsh truths about himself and the way women really view him. With excellent acting from the supporting cast—including Ashley Johnson as Nick’s sarcastic yet sweet daughter Alex, Marisa Tomei as his passing love interest, Lola, and Alan Alda as Nick’s elderly boss, Dan—a good soundtrack, and smooth cinematography throughout, the audience is easily immersed for the duration of What Women Want’s 2:07 runtime.