In commemoration of the upcoming remake, WHAT MEN WANT (2019), I’m going back in time to check out the original.
Cast: Mel Gibson (DADDY’S HOME 2 , EXPENDABLES 3 , and the upcoming BOSS LEVEL ), Helen Hunt (THE MIRACLE SEASON ), Marisa Tomei (FIRST PURGE , SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING , CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR , BIG SHORT , and upcoming films I HATE KIDS  and SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME ), Judy Greer (HALLOWEEN , WAR/APES , ANT-MAN , and upcoming films WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?  and BUFFALOED ), and Sarah Paulson (OCEANS 8 , REBEL/RYE , CAROL , and upcoming films GLASS  and THE GOLDFINCH )
Director: Nancy Meyers (THE PARENT TRAP )
Writers: Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (13 GOING ON 30 )
Composer: Alan Silvestri (WELCOME TO MARWEN , THE WALK , THE CROODS , THE AVENGERS , CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER , PREDATOR  and 2 , and upcoming films AVENGERS: ENDGAME  and THE CROODS 2 )
Cinematographer: Dean Cundey (HOME AGAIN )
Editors: Thomas J. Nordberg (THE HOST , DRILLBIT TAYLOR , and the upcoming BOLDEN ) and Stephen A. Rotter (ENCHANTED  and AMERCIA’S SWEETHEARTS )
This is my honest opinion of: WHAT WOMEN WANT
Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) is a man’s man, or so it’s been said. He has a mostly negative view of women, seeing them as one-dimensional personalities, or sexual conquests. However, his boss at his job, Sloane|Curtis, says that the current climate in the workforce is centered around women, and that the position of “creative director” in the company has been given to a female outsider, Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt), who has a reputation for chewing out men. Introducing a new way of getting the men in the office familiar with female products, Nick decides to get himself acquainted, despite his egregious lack of desire to do so. A freak accident causes him to get electrocuted and he wakes up the next morning to find that he can now hear the thoughts of all women around him. What he thinks is a curse is eventually convinced that he can exploit this ability to his advantage.
Wow, the evidence of the 90s trying to die. This movie is so outdated that it’s actually kind of amusing.
I won’t lie, the movie doesn’t start off that poorly. Little kid raised around scantily-clad women and hustler douche-bag men, I can see that level of inconsistency doing a number on an easily impressionable child, who is played by a crazy-young Logan Lerman, by the way. However, as soon as the opening ends, Nick’s personality sort of loses me… and more or less the rest of the movie, but that’ll come later. Believe it or not, just because a boy is raised around women like this wouldn’t immediately raise up a misogynist. In fact, one who is raised around so many women would actually pick up on the nuances of differing personalities. Sure, life should do that in of itself, but that’s be expecting too much from a movie like this. In fact, if nothing else, raised around good, hard-working, occasionally unappreciated women, would teach a boy to be more respectful. The movie makes the claim that he had many male “role models,” but we only see him interact with one and it lasts for just a couple of seconds. I don’t buy his personality later in life. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that older white men get creepily entitled and aggressively hit on, or otherwise mistreat, women wherever they go, but that mentality has to comes from something a little more sensible. Even blaming “the time period” doesn’t always cut it.
And that’s the problem with the movie. Everyone’s oversimplified. Oh, not just the men, but the women too. Take Nick. Raised around a lot of women, but is still raised to be sexist. That doesn’t make any sense. We never meet any of Nick’s male role models, other than one, but that’s hardly taking in the nuances of why Nick is the way he is. It’s explained, rather than shown. But that’s a guppy-sized problem compared to the marlin that plagues this movie. The women suffer from simplicity of all shapes and sizes. Take Darcy, she’s built up to be this “man-eater,” and yet, we never see that out of her. In fact, she seems rather level-minded, professional, and even sweet. Okay, so maybe it’s just a rumor that was circulating because she a strong, confident, and smart woman. Well, first of all, having a “man-eater” reputation would imply that she’s almost a femi-nazi. She attacks any man who criticizes her, or argues against her. Having such a negative reputation has to come from somewhere and I don’t see it. But nope, she’s actually quite nice and likable.
None of the other characters fare any better. Lola, played by Marisa “holy shit I look like a baby” Tomei, who is this desperate young woman who just wants to get laid. Again, I’m aware that women can absolutely have low self-esteem and no self-respect and just want to get porked. But Tomei is sorely miscast in that regard. I’m sorry, but as many jokes as Tony Stark makes about Aunt May, he’s absolutely right. Tomei is a damned bombshell of unquantifiable levels. This is the kind of woman who could literally shop for a man, snap her fingers, and have her way with a man. Just… no, I do not believe that a woman as attractive as Lola, with a sex drive like hers, has trouble getting any man. But even her motivations don’t seem to make sense. Is she just trying to get laid, is she looking for a relationship, her mind is so confused that I’m not entirely sure if she’s mentally stable. Especially since she practically stalks him at his penthouse and starts wondering if he’s gay because he hasn’t called her. Also, who asks the question, “how gay?” Damn, America’s come a long way since 2000. Nick’s daughter Alex (Ashley Johnson) is a stereotypical teen, and Erin the file girl, played by Judy “what the hell, how many baby-faced actresses are in this damned movie” Greer is a moody, borderline suicidal introvert because… I don’t know. She was passed up for a job opening? So what? Life goes on, look for an opening somewhere else.
And this movie gets downright childish and cartoon-y at times. I mean, tripping over bath beads? He can hear the thoughts of dogs? Using a pencil to pick up a bra and box of pantyhose? You’re meaning to tell me a man who gets laid as much as he has hasn’t ever touched women’s underwear before. Bro… this is straight bullshit. These are the mannerisms of a man who has never gotten laid.
So I’ve gotten into quite a few negatives. Is there anything that saves this movie?
Well, as I said, the oversimplification of both men and women is certainly hypnotically entertaining. Like, for a movie trying to hard to get into the minds of both men and women, the movie pretty much fails in a humorous way. So I’m never bored watching it. But legit positives? Yeah, I’d say there’s a couple. For as much as the characters are more cartoonish than real, I admit that Nick does have a surprisingly smooth and relatively subtle change in character. His arc does seem to hit all the right notes. He starts off freaking out about his mind-reading, realizes the benefits, and then slowly but surly gets to a place where he starts to correct his own mannerisms, becomes more considerate, until he becomes a pretty stand-up guy. Better movies have had less subtle changes in characters. And I actually kind of love the lead actors. Gibson and Hunt work very well off of each other. They’re cute, he’s charming, she’s adorable, they’re a great pairing that’s really fun to watch. Even in their most ridiculous of scenes together, legit comedy shines through.
Overall, this is not a movie you could get away with making today. For a movie that’s trying to preach about being politically correct, nothing really explains how to be in a smart or clever way. But in a strange sort of way, that works to the film’s advantage. That doesn’t make it good, but this is that sort of reminder that “men vs. women” movies were being made like this. Not that they’re extinct, but they’re pretty rare and not always met with praise. It’s an entertaining little time-capsule into what being P.C. meant in a different decade before we really sat down and mulled it over. I can’t call this movie good, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend two hours.
My honest rating for WHAT WOMEN WANT: 3/5