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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 12/21/2000, B: t , A: t ,

What Women Want

Your typical glossy Hollywood redemption story, Nancy Meyers's What Women Want exceeds the expectations set by its central gimmick but winds up as flat as Mel Gibson's oft-exposed abs. Gibson's Nick Marshall is a chauvinist ad exec who repulses women at the same time that he gets them in the sack. The first half-hour plods along without wit as we wait for it to catch up with the trailer and movie poster. Finally, Nick falls into the tub with his hairdryer, sparks fly, and he wakes up a new man: one who can hear what women think. To his chagrin, he finds that most women think he's scum but enjoy gazing at his butt. It's a living hell until he realizes he can put his new skill to use at the office where his new female boss, Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt), demands he learn to market products to women. The film is fun for a while as Nick unwittingly begins to act like a woman. But for a movie that purports to get into the minds of women, What Women Want is mainly about Mel. Nick learns his lessons and becomes the ideal man in a mushy fashion that insults what moviegoers, women and men alike, want. At the Cheri, the Fresh Pond, and the Circle and in the suburbs.

-- Mark Bazer