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What Women Want

Director:Nancy Meyers
Writers:Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa
Paramount; PG-13; 123 minutes
Cast:Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei

What Women Want derives its title from the side effect of Nick Marshall's (Mel Gibson) bathing accident: the misogynist ad exec can suddenly read women's minds. As it turns out, the ladies think mostly about men. While the situation is ripe with humorous possibilities, the film fumbles its premise. Gibson's Nick is a scheming opportunist, and begins by using this power to usurp his new boss, played by Helen Hunt.

Poor Helen. Every few movies she gets shoehorned into the role of an independent woman who falls for an intolerable male chauvinist. Last time it was Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets. This time, she and the legions of other women who are attracted to Nick despite his attitude slowly begin turning him into a better person with their feminine insight. Nick steadily becomes more sensitive, or at least that's what the screenwriters would have us believe. For Gibson cannot evoke the nuance his role requires.

Marisa Tomei has some bright moments as Nick's lover, but Hunt's character is conceived below her ability. Inconsistent romance with a conservative twist.

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