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Mel Gibson is one of Hollywood's biggest actors who's wide variety of roles include both comedic (Chicken Run, Lethal Weapon, war hero (Braveheart, The Patriot) and even a turn as in the title role in an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Now he tries to find out What Women Want in director Nancy Meyers film of the same name.

What Women Want
The Movie
What do women actually want? Do they want a sensitive guy? Do they want a macho guy? Do they want the bad boy type? Who knows? I certainly don't, but this is the question that is being asked in Mel Gibson's latest, What Women Want. Those of you who were hoping for a serious answer to the question aren't going to find it here. But if you're looking for a fun, fluffy, whimsical date movie, then What Women Want  is a sure fire bet.

Gibson stars as Nick Marshall, the ultimate "man's -man" who just happens to not have had your typical upbringing. How many kids do you know that were raised around strippers? Nick is the kind of guy who can melt the hearts of women with such finesse and ease that it leaves other men in awe. He has a good job as an advertising executive at Chicago's #3 ad firm Slone-Curtis. He has just landed a major account and all signs point to a nice promotion to creative director. However he soon finds out that he is being passed over for that job when his boss Dan (Alan Alda) explains that the big dollars are in marketing products for the female population, something that Nick clearly doesn't know much about. The person who does is Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt), the so called queen of female advertising. It's clear from the first time Nick meets her that he wants her job, and will do anything it takes to unseat her.

Luckily for Nick, a freak accident occurs at home and he finds that he suddenly has the ability to hear what women are thinking. It's an ability he uses to his advantage in both his personal female conquests, and at the office as he takes Darcy's ideas and passes them off as his own. Problems arise when he starts to fall for Darcy romantically.

The chemistry between Gibson and Hunt is convincing enough for a movie of this nature, so the comedy works, as does the romance. However, it's when What Women Want veers off the comedic and romantic track and into a more serious dramatic mode that it begins to stumble. Some sub plots seem to be overly stretched such as the one dealing with Nick's teenage daughter (Alex Johnson) while others seem under utilized such as a suicidal office co-worker and a brief romance with a coffee shop barista played by the lovely Marisa Tomei.

The inclusion and exclusion of these elements cause a pacing issue. The film slows down drastically towards the end as the changes in direction and focus occur. Further tinkering in the editing booth could definitely have both helped the pacing and maximized the message. At just over the two hours, What Women Want runs a tad long, verging on overstaying its welcome. That said, the ending felt very rushed leaving me with the feeling that director Nancy Meyers felt the same thing, and that she had to end it and fast.

Mel Gibson gives a terrific performance as Nick. He never seems like he is trying too hard to get the laughs he is getting. He's the most likeable "man's man" I've seen in a movie. Helen Hunt has little to do here but she gives it her all turning in a very capable performance. Supporting players Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) and Judy Greer (The Wedding Planner) are very good in their small roles and our sadly under used, while Alex Johnson is at best a very generic teenage daughter.

What Women Want
Video
What Women Want is presented in a excellent 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer from Paramount. As can be expected considering the age of this picture. The image is crystal clear, full of rich colors, natural skin tones and really brings the story to life in front of the viewer. Aside from the occasional instance of shimmering on the side of a building or window shade, the transfer is near perfect and one of the better ones I've seen of late. An excellent effort from Paramount here.

Audio
What Women Want is a comedy and as such I wasn't expecting much in the way of the audio mix. However I was very pleasantly surprised, as the mix for What Women Want goes far beyond the normally limited front heavy comedy soundtrack. The movie opens up to include the rears in many scenes involving rain and lightning as well as providing an additional place for the score and music.

One of the highlights of the soundtrack has to be the soundtrack which features an excellent selection of old standards as well as some contemporary songs, from Christina Aguilera to Frank Sinatra to Meredith Brooks, the soundtrack brings the visuals to life. Adding to the power of the musical side of this movie is the score by Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future, The Bodyguard, Castaway, Forrest Gump) which is understated yet very effective. Silvestri has once again proven him as one of Hollywood's best composers who regardless of the scope of the film always turns out a top-notch effort.

Dialogue for the most part is clear and easily understandable, I noticed a couple times were the dialogue seemed a bit too loud and got a bit distorted.

In addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, there are both English and French 2.0 Prologic mixes for those who prefer them.

Overall I was pretty impressed at the level of the audio presentation on this disc considering I wasn't expecting much of an experience from a romantic comedy of this nature..

What Women Want
Extras
At the beginning Paramount wasn't big on giving us DVD fans as many extras as some of the other studios. In fact up until the last 6 months or so most of their discs were as barebones as they could get. Some offering no more then the movie and a trailer. However in recent months Paramount has been picking up the slack and while they are still trailing one must commend them for their efforts so far. Another plus is that they don't label just anything a special edition, there feature packed edition of Mission Impossible II was just part of their regular line of titles. In this day and age when more discs are labelled SEs then are not labelled SE this is something I applaud Paramount for.  So while What Women Want doesn't have the number of features MI2 has we still get a pretty good disc and way more then we would have gotten had this film come out a year ago.

Here's what we have!

Director and Production Designer Commentary Track - a full length commentary with director Nancy Meyers and Production Designer Jon Hutman.

Cast and Crew Interviews - The standard Paramount cast and crew interviews with a running length of about 15 minutes. An interesting watch once, probably not something I'd watch again.

Behind the Scenes Featurette - a 20 minute look Behind the Scenes of "What Women Want" featuring some additional interviews and some footage from the movie. Fairly promotional in nature and only slightly informative.

Rounding out the disc we have both the Theatrical and Teaser trailers in DD 2.0

Overall, we have more then some Paramount discs but less then others and what we do have is mostly promotional press-kit type material. I can only feel a tad disappointed thinking that there must have been some funny material left on the cutting room floor that didn't wind up on the disc. A decent job but there could have been much more.

Overall, What Women Want is a good fluff filled motion picture. Although it has its problems and runs a bit long, it's a pretty good romantic comedy.  If your a fan of the movie then the DVD is worth a look. If you haven't seen the movie then maybe it's best to try it out as a rental first.


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