What Women Want (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Robbins Report: "A Christmas Carol" meets "Zapped!"

I think Mel Gibson is pretty darned charming. That's what made him a big star. He also proves that he is light on his feet, and can do a great fall. I never knew he was so agile. Doesn't seem fair that he can move like that in addition to what he looks like at his age.

But no matter how friggin' charming he is, popping his face in nearly every frame of a 136 minute romantic comedy about supernatural powers is really testing my patience. OK, Mel beats the hell out of Willie Aames and Chachi, but it's still just the grown-up version of Zapped!

Don't get me wrong. It isn't a bad movie, but two and a half hours seemed too much of an investment in a romantic comedy with no deeper insights.

It's a bit disappointing considering the premise (a freak accident gives male chauvinist Mel the ability to read women's thoughts). If you are going to the trouble to write one of these supernatural powers flicks, at least do something with it, fer chrissakes! (Well, they wanted a pg-13.)


No female nudity

Mel Gibson doesn't do his usual butt shot, but he does do a Sharon Stone leg crossing scene while he sits naked on a toilet seat.

OK, so it's not exactly Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" in its penetrating insights into the human subconscious, but for what it is - a throwaway fluff piece - it's OK. It is pretty romantic and pretty funny, and I thought that Helen Hunt and Mel worked well together. That's enough, I guess, because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

But I don't know about these movies with instant redemption through cataclysm or supernatural powers. They always seem so phony.

This may have been fresh when it happened to Saul of Tarsus. OK, Saul is an evil persecutor of Christians, gets hit by lighting, becomes Saint Paul. That worked. But when Dickens did it in "A Christmas Carol", it had already been tired for 1800 years. Ebeneezer Scrooge is evil, meets Casper and other ghosts, and is turned into Saint Francis overnight.

At the end of this particular film, Mel is yet another reformed old lecher who sees the error of his ways, joining Gere in "Autumn in NY". At the beginning of the movie he thinks of nothing but where to hide the salami, but by the end he's delivering food baskets to battered women, campaigning for president of NOW, running a woman's suicide hotline, and traveling to India to head up the U.N's fight against female infanticide. He's seriously considering one of those trips to Copenhagen to lop off his pecker, so he can don Mother Theresa's habit and continue her good works. God bless us, every one.

I'm exaggerating, of course, but you know what I mean, right? Do they always have to go to bed as Hannibal Lecter and wake up as Bernadette of Lourdes?

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • full-length director's commentary

  • various smaller features, cast interviews, featurette, trailer

If it had been my script, I would have gotten rid of the sub-plot with Mel's daughter completely.

Write her ass right out of existence, and let the romance and office rivalry hold the stage. That could have cut the film closer to 90 minutes, and would have paced it better, in my opinion.

But my opinion doesn't really count - it's already a big hit, despite a lukewarm critical response. It's gold, Jerry, gold!

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: slightly less than three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 59.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. Pretty much split down the middle. 59% positive overall, 47% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9, Apollo users 62/100. These scores are consistent with the critical consensus of two and a half to three stars.
  • With their dollars ... a big, big hit. $182 million domestic gross.
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Cute enough romantic comedy, not likely to have much crossover to people who don't normally enjoy this type of movie.

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