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Film: What Women Want

"If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, and you speak Venutian, the world can be yours."

What Women Want is a 2000 Romantic Comedy starring Mel Gibson as Nick Marshall, an advertising executive who holds a really strong "Alpha Male" outlook on life, thanks to having a Vegas showgirl for a mother. He's skilled at marketing products to men, as well as romancing numerous women. Word at his agency is his boss Dan Wanamaker (Alan Alda) is looking for a new creative director, and Nick is convinced it'll be him, but it turns out he's hired Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt), so as to broaden their appeal to women.

Further complicating matters is his divorced wife Gigi (Lauren Holly) has asked him to take care of their teenaged daughter Alex (Ashley Johnson) while she goes on honeymoon with her new husband. And Alex has a much-older boyfriend, who she's embarrassed to be with in her father's presence.

One day, as part of a marketing assignment, Nick is trying out several women's products when he slips and falls into the bathtub with a hairdryer. When he awakens, he finds himself able to hear the thoughts of every woman around him. He's horrified, but after a meeting with his former marriage counselor (Bette Midler), he starts to see his telepathy as a gift, and he peruses the thoughts of women, including Darcy, to not only get ahead in marketing feminine products, but also in becoming closer with his female coworkers as well as his daughter.

In 2011, a remake was made in China under the title 我知女人心 ("I know women's hearts"), starring Andy Lau and Gong Li.


Tropes featured in this film include:

  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Nick thinks this way until he starts using it to get ahead at his job and improve his relationships with other women, including his daughter.
  • An Aesop
  • The Casanova: Nick is a notorious playboy. He gets better.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The movie pretty much drops the comedy in the last half-hour, which makes sense considering he costs Darcy her job (and loses her in the process), Nick's daughter gets an unwanted advance at her prom, the file girl is missing, and he loses his powers. Everything works out, though.
  • Character Development: At first, Nick uses his powers to sleep with a stubborn but hot coffee girl and phase Darcy out of her job, but as he continues he uses it to be a better father and help Erin the File Girl.
  • Chick Flick: Totally.
  • Costume Test Montage: When Nick and his daughter go shopping to choose her prom dress.
  • Cursed with Awesome / Blessed with Suck: For a strong willed guy like Nick who has the ability to change his ways or manipulate women into doing what he wants this power is awesome. However, for a weaker man the knowledge that every woman hates you constantly forcing its way into your brain would probably leave you an emotional cripple.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading
  • Dyeing for Your Art
  • Electrified Bathtub: How Nick inexplicably gets his powers.
  • Forgot About the Mind Reader: For some reason, this keeps happening in the movie, even though most of the female characters have no idea Mel Gibson's character has gained telepathy. One of the more painful examples has to be Helen Hunt's character thinking, "Oh, God, I just stared at his crotch!" and covering her eyes, because that does not look suspicious at all.
  • Guardian Angel: In the end, when Nick hurries to stop Erin from committing suicide, a woman appears to point him in the right direction, and at the same time takes away his mind-reading power. It is clear to the viewer that she is on the case, showing where Nick's power comes from and why.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Nick's coworker thinks he's overpaid...and gay. The gay part kinda startles him. Overpaid... not so much.
  • Lady Killer In Love: Nick, by the end of the film.
  • Licensed Sexist: Nick is a subversion of this, being the "Alpha Male" and all.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything
  • Mistaken for Gay / All the Good Men Are Gay: The coffee girl Nick sleeps with and then forgets about later confronts him, saying that he was so sweet and so sensitive that he just had to be gay and that was why he didn't call her. Nick chooses to lie and confirm this, pretending that she's his Last Het Romance, just so she won't think she's undesirable. Also, Nick's coworker in the office thinks he's overpaid and gay.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Erin the File Girl.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Flo.
  • Son of a Whore: Mel Gibson's character was the son of a Las Vegas Showgirl of the Ostrich Feather variety, but still about the same story.
  • Survival Mantra: "Don't fall for a guy at work...don't fall for a guy at work..."


What's Your Number?Romantic ComedyWhen Harry Met Sally
What Lies BeneathFilms of 2000 - 2004 Where The Heart Is

alternative title(s): What Women Want
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