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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director Nancy Meyers & production designer John Hutton
  • 10 Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus
  • Interviews
  • 2 Awards/Nominations - The Making of... & A Look Inside...
  • 10 Filmographies

What Women Want

Warner Bros./Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 122 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

What's that I hear, did some guy out there say "just chocolate"? Go and stand in the corner!

Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) is the golden child at Chicago ad agency Sloane/Curtis. Women go sterile just looking at him and the men all want to be him - or at least that's what he thinks. Renowned throughout the office as the least PC bloke on the planet, he's the resident T&A guy, women are 'babes' and ripe for the bumping into, and if you want to sell anything to blokes then he's your, erm, bloke. This attitude is totally justifiable though, as he was raised by a Vegas showgirl Mum and her gaggle of friends, so he never learned not to objectify women. That makes it all OK then, doesnít it?

However the world has been evolving (shock, horror!), and with the realisation that women actually have quite the say in consumer decisions (and quite the 'disposable' incomes) his struggling company are looking to grab their slice of the chick market - so the creative director promotion he thinks he's a shoe-in for doesnít actually lap dance his way. It would appear that whilst he may be good at getting into women's pants, he's not necessarily so adept at getting into their psyches...

Enter Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt), supposed bitch from hell (for as we all know any woman that isn't a subservient giggly little secretarial lap dog is as much, donít we?) and newly appointed creative director. As her task is to corner the female ad market, she doles out little pink boxes to all staff, containing all manner of inspirationally girlie stuff from lippy to nail polish, wonderbras to panty hose, and bath-beads to pregnancy tests. After getting quite drunk, observing that there's way too much oestrogen on television nowadays and eventually deciding to have a play with the contents of the box to get into the female spirit (and rather hilariously getting sprung by his less-than-close stereotypically fifteen year old daughter), Nick has quite the klutz-attack, and ends up suffering from a rather explosive balls-up that renders him waxed, polished, lippied, hosed, prostrate and passed out on the floor of his bathroom, to be discovered the next morning by his maid (he's a man remember, no menial chores for this stud). Still, at least he didnít try the pregnancy test.

It's from here that Nick discovers just what a bit of a bump to the noggin, and a few thousand volts, can do to you when you're the main character in a romantic comedy. Whilst we all know he can now hear the thoughts of women (and also poo-poo-poodles it would seem), it takes Mr Macho a while to cotton on, him being more convinced that he's losing his marbles (here's a hint mate, they're all over your bathroom floor - oh no, your maid will have cleaned them up by now, right?) He trots off to a shrink (oh no! Bette Midler in an uncredited cameo), who on confirming that he can now speak Venusian (you know, men are from Mars blah blah blah) convinces him he's the luckiest man on earth. Now, will he use his newfound powers for good, or for bwah-ha-ha style evil? Well, the latter of course, but it doesnít necessarily go as he plans as whilst attempting to undermine Darcy he falls for her (it's a romantic comedy, remember?) and on realising that almost every woman he thought adored him thinks he's an utter schmuck he undergoes an almost unwitting metamorphosis, climbing the evolutionary chain from thoughtless cad to thoughtful SNAG.

  Video
Contract

As we have every right to expect of a film of such recent vintage, but donít always get, What Women Want looks magnificent. Served up to us in its cinematic ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced, it is easily one of the cleanest and nicest looking transfers I have come across in my DVDland travels to date.

There's not much more I can think of to flesh this section of the review out with - none of the usual filmic gremmies raised their heads save for one (that's a singular, solitary, friendless, "is the loneliest number" unit) black speck I noticed towards the end of the film. Many opportunities were present for aliasing, however the encoders here have done something magical in managing to avoid it completely. Contrast and colour were all sumptuous without being overdone, and in all this is a job extremely well done.

The layer change is placed in a fade to black, which is good, however it does cut Frankie Sinatra off in mid-song, which isnít particularly polite, and he's probably not the first bloke in the world you wish to do this to if you value the stain-free nature of your bed linen, or non-concreteness of your boots.

  Audio
Contract

Not one, but two English soundtracks are included here - one in Dolby 5.1, and one in Dolby 2.0 Stereo. Whilst both sounded quite wonderful, if you have the equipment to exploit the former then naturally you'll want to use it. Generally films such as this aren't the greatest for stretching the powers of all those little extra speakers you've so lovingly invested in, however when called for here they're more than equal to the task - rounding out the soundtrack pleasantly, and thundering into life during storms and the like (it's a romantic comedy, at least ONE storm is a prerequisite you know). Dialogue levels are fine throughout, except for one scene where Mel is whisper-mumbling to a co-worker (hint - switch to the subtitle track for most any hope of deciphering this one).

Composer Alan Silvestri has come up with a mainly Rat-Pack-era ticka-tish ticka-tish styled jazzy soundtrack, which I'm sure many will enjoy. Well-known standards from the likes of Sammy David Jnr, Peggy Lee, Bobby Darin and the aforementioned Mr Sinatra (and more Cole Porter tracks than a thousand charity records) abound throughout, juxtaposed often jarringly (but scaringly welcomely to these noodle jazz-phobic ears) with the likes of Meredith Brooks' Bitch, and songs from teeny fodder such as Groove Armada, B*Witched (the walking, talking, wiggling denim emporium) and even Vocalist Barbie (Christina Aguilera). I daresay that the inevitable soundtrack CD that was spawned from this would make for rather eclectic listening.

  Extras
Contract

Well, there's quite the bunch of bonus goodies to sink our teeth into here...

Animated menus: Pleasant and locally produced, these feature some quite subtle animation and an interesting audio-montage of women's thoughts culled from the film. Nice job people!

Commentary: Director Nancy Meyers let's us into her mind (so to speak) regarding her film, and occasionally production designer John Hutton pipes up to add his five cents worth. This isnít the most exciting commentary track you'll ever come across by any means, it is incredibly sparse at times for one, however at least it avoids the trap so many plummet into of reiterating all that we can see for ourselves on-screen, and gives us some insight into the thinking behind the picture, and many of the actors and locations used throughout.

Teaser trailer: In Dolby Stereo at 1.85:1, just on two minutes combining most of the funny bits from the film, including a couple that didnít make the final cut.

Theatrical trailer: Not phenomenally different from the teaser, this includes another scene that didnít make it in the end, is presented the same sonically and visually, and runs for an extra fourteen seconds or so. Both trailers are OK to look at, although not as sparkly-fresh as the main feature.

Showtime interviews with Andrew Warne: We get something region one doesn't get - nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! OK, childish over-exuberance aside, it's just a four minute chunk culled from cable, featuring most of the trailer, some brief footage from the world premiere and a few interview snippets with Mel and Hel. Regardless, it is indeed fabulous to have local distributors making that bit of extra effort to source extras such as this - applause!

The Making of...: A 16-minute love-in featuring many of the same old scenes from the trailers, interspersed with on-set footage and interviews with main cast members. Mel's ace! Hel's ace! Nancy's ace! Hey, we're all ace! (Group hug, awwwwwwwwwwwww...)

A Look Inside...: Just under 12-minutes in duration, this crosses over a smidgeon into the same territory as the featurette mentioned above, however does have different interview footage and is well worth a quick peek. The same squooshy-squooshy schmooze factor also applies here.

Cast and crew bios: Very readable (although often factually selective) pieces on nine of the cast and director Nancy. It was indeed fun to learn that Marisa Tomei has come a long way from Troma's goop-fest The Toxic Avenger, and that ONE of Mel Gibson's middle names is 'Columcille'. 'Columcille', heehee...

Dolby trailer: The wet, raindroppy one.

  Overall  
Contract

Whilst no classic like many of the forties and fifties films that appear to have inspired it, What Women Want is nonetheless quite a fun watch. It's refreshing to see Mel take on a comedic role, and to realise that whilst he may be able to save the world from all manner of nefarious South Africans and lead armies into great battles, he canít even master what us girls do most every day - donning a pair of pantyhose without ripping them to shreds. Some such as myself may find it a crying shame that the female lead role was given to Helen pointy-pointy icky horrorhead Hunt, yet she's popping up everywhere so I guess some people must actually find her appealing. Shudder. She does a serviceable job, but I could probably name a thousand actresses who I think could have done it better.

The supporting cast is fabulous, most notably the gorgeous Marisa Tomei, who gets to play a rather ditzy aspiring actress named Lola as she continues her metamorphosis into becoming Annette Bening (I can think of MUCH worse things that could happen), Lauren Holly as Nick's glam-ditz ex-wife, Ashley Johnson as his stereotypically rebellious daughter, Alan Alda not being all super-pious for a change, and even Valerie Perrine and Delta Burke as Nick's two giggle-pot assistants are great fun.

One Very Bad Thing I must point out is what could easily be one of the most horrific cases of blatantly over the top product placement in the history of film. Yes, I know they work in an ad agency, but the suck-job delivered here to a certain company that flogs sporting gear (that could easily have been exchanged for a fictitious company) is beyond nauseating, and enough to make me continue to avoid their products for the rest of my life.

As a disc there's great value to be had, with near perfect video presentation, a mighty fine sound job and a generous bunch of mostly worthwhile extras. Also, if you have a healthy appetite for noodle jazz you will be in your element.

I'm sorry to have to break it to those guys that may have been labouring under the miscomprehension that this is an instructional video, but if you're looking to pick up a few pointers to help Mr Pointy get some action you'll end up rather disappointed. However, if you want to grab a flick that you and your partner (and congratulations on having one IF you thought this film would actually tell some secrets) should have a good night's fun with then you're onto quite the winner, whether you rent it or buy it.

Oh, and I probably shouldnít let you know this, but chocolate ALWAYS helps...


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      And I quote...
    "Well, A DVD that looks and sounds this good is certainly a great start..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
      Recent Reviews:
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