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Mel Gibson- WHAT WOMEN WANT ($30) it seems so appropriate, doesn't it? Never has the star's name above the title gone so well with the actual title- after all, women have been swooning over the star of WHAT WOMEN WANT for roughly two decades. I guess it’s Gibson's boyish charm and sense of humor that has been packing the ladies into the cinemas all these years- yeah right.



In WHAT WOMEN WANT Gibson portrays advertising man Nick Marshall, who can sell any product that he can package with a beautiful woman in a bikini. Nick's success in selling products is only equaled by his success in selling himself to the ladies. However, one morning Nick wakes up to discover that he is living in a woman's world. Nick thought for sure that he was on the fast track to becoming the new creative director of his advertising agency, but loses the position to Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) because of her ability to sell products to the demographic that the firm has never been able to touch- namely American women.


Despite all his success with bedding women, Nick is forced into the realization that he knows absolutely nothing about the inner workings of the female psyche and hasn't had a single successful relationship with a woman, as his teenage daughter Alexandra (Ashley Johnson) and ex-wife Gigi (Lauren Holly) can surely attest. However, while trying to get in touch with his feminine side- or at least the women's products he is hoping to sell, Nick has a highly charged accident, from which he awakens to discover that he has the power to read women's minds. At first, Nick thinks he is going insane, but when he comes to realize that he is the only man who really knows what women want, he decides to use his newfound gift to his advantage in both his professional and personal lives.

WHAT WOMEN WANT is a truly funny movie that examines the differences between the sexes and how they see the world. If this romantic comedy has a failing, it's the fact that it’s a bit too long, with the pacing starting to drag towards the end. Mel Gibson is ideally cast as the ultimate "man's man" who suddenly begins to see the world and himself from a different perspective. Mel's Frank Sinatra/Fred Astaire inspired moment is another of this film’s simple joys that is reminiscent of the simpler days of romantic comedies. Helen Hunt has great chemistry working with Gibson, plus she is an absolute natural playing this type of material- I guess all those years on MAD ABOUT YOU are paying off. The delightful supporting cast of WHAT WOMEN WANT also features Marisa Tomei, Alan Alda, Mark Feuerstein, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer, Sarah Paulson, Ana Gasteyer, Lisa Edelstein, Loretta Devine, Diana-Maria Riva, Eric Balfour and an uncredited, but always funny Bette Midler.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made WHAT WOMEN WANT available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The transfer looks absolutely wonderful thanks to Dean Cundey's glossy cinematography and modern film stocks. Almost every shot is crisp and bristling with detail- even the softer shots are highly appealing. Colors are rich looking without appearing over-saturated and the flesh tones are right on the money. Not even the most intense hues betray any signs of noise or smearing. Blacks are incredibly velvety and the level of shadow detail is excellent because of the meticulous care that Cundey has applied to the lighting of the film's nighttime sequences. Digital compression artifacts are completely hidden by first rate dual layer authoring.

Surprise, surprise! WHAT WOMEN WANT features a much better than average comedy mix. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is far more involving than I thought it would be; providing more sound effects and activity in the surround channels than one usually finds in comedy films. For sure, this is no action movie, but this is the caliber of sound mixing what other comedies should be striving for. The forward soundstage has a pronounced presence, with very good channel separation and distinct sound effect placement. Activity in the rear channels isn't constant, but most of the time the surrounds hold their own by providing ambient sound and musical fill. When the rear channels do come to life, they do so in a forceful way that pulls the viewer into the moment. Dialogue sounds completely natural and is always fully intelligible. The bass channel sits on the sideline most of the time, but it effectively kicks in when required. Music is very nicely integrated into this sound mix and maintains a full, rich quality for both Alan Silvestri's score and the film's excellent selection of popular music. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound enhance the DVD's charming interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. Director Nancy Meyers and production designer John Hutman provide a running commentary that should prove interesting enough for fans, but probably won't hold the attention of casual listeners. WHAT WOMEN WANT also includes two featurettes The Making of What Women Want and What Women Want: A Look Inside. Both featurettes run over ten minutes, but are typical fluffy PR fare, offering interviews with the principles and a glimpse behind-the-scenes. Two theatrical trailers close out the DVD's supplements.

WHAT WOMEN WANT is a very funny and enjoyable romantic comedy that places its own spin on the fact that men really don't understand women. Paramount's DVD looks and sounds great, so if you’re interested in knowing WHAT WOMEN WANT, you had better pick up a copy of the disc.


What Women Want


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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