The idea that a man is able to eaves drop on women's thoughts is a good one. The idea of casting Mel Gibson as the man is also a good one. Unfortunately every other idea director Nancy Meyers and writers Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa had wasn't so good. The result being that What Women Want is a sprawling and tedious romantic comedy that lacks conviction and more alarmingly, romance.

Mel Gibson has an effortless charm and sexiness, making it surprising that this is his first shot at a romantic comedy. What is more surprising is that here Helen Hunt lacks either and the chemistry between the two is clearly an experiment that failed.

Gibson plays Nick Marshall, a womanising executive in a Chicago advertising company. Being brought up by his showgirl mother in Las Vegas imbued the young Nick with a warped sense of feminine understanding. When a vacancy arises for a Creative Director, Nick is convinced his appointment is a formality. However his boss (Alda), fearing the company needs a woman to improve their miserable feminine products portfolio, brings in the dynamic Darcy Maguire (Hunt).

The slighted Nick then sets about undermining Maguire. This task is aided by his sudden ability to hear what women are thinking caused by a freak accident, enabling him to steal Maguire's ideas. The down side being he is shocked to discover that contrary to previous thinking, most of his female colleagues dislike him. The realisation instantly transforms the once arrogant Nick into a sensitive and caring confidante.

A sub-plot involving a counter-girl at a coffee shop, played with admirable verve by Tomei, is pointless and distracting. Also a thread involving his ex-wife and their teenage daughter weaves its clich├ęd way through her prom night and the threatened loss of her virginity.

Beginning with such a high concept premise allows for a lot of leeway with credulity so when Nick finds himself spontaneously breaking into dance routines both at home and in a shop, it's forgivable particularly as Gibson is so engaging in his Fred Astaire homage.

No comments: