What Women Want (2000)

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Released 20-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Nancy Meyers (Dir) & Jon Huttman (Prod Designer)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Showtime Interviews With Andrew Warne
Teaser Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-A Look Inside
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 121:25
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nancy Meyers
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mel Gibson
Helen Hunt
Marisa Tomei
Mark Feuerstein
Lauren Holly
Alan Alda
Case C-Button-Version 2
RPI $34.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, including a very funny performance by Bette Midler
Annoying Product Placement Yes, I wonder how much Nike paid to get the screentime
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Successful advertising hot shot Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) has a (supposedly) rare talent: he knows What Women Want. No, this is not because he is gay, although from the lines this character utters later on in the film, I'm having my doubts. Actually, he's a bit of an obnoxious ladies' man who thinks he is God's gift to women (well, quite a lot of women do think that Mel Gibson is a gift from God, but that's another story). His mum worked as a Las Vegas showgirl, and he was brought up surrounded up beautiful females who molly-coddled him. As a result, he expects females to fawn all over him, but deep inside he's just your average man's man: insensitive, uncaring and cruel if you believe the film's scriptwriter.

    He thinks he is in line for promotion to Creative Director, but at the last moment his boss Dan Wanamaker (Alan Alda) decides to hire a woman instead: the interestingly-named Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt). The rationale is that women are now the big spenders and more and more advertising is targeting women, so Dan is afraid his firm will be left in the cold unless he gets a Creative Director who understands how women think.

    Does Nick get mad? No, but he plans to get even, by sabotaging Darcy. As he ponders how to do this, he attends Darcy's inaugural staff meeting where she hands everyone a box full of women's products and urges everyone to start thinking like a woman in order to come up with ideas about how to market the products.

    At home in his elegant and sumptuous apartment (Clue #1 as to why I suspect Nick is not quite the man's man he's supposed to be: if he really was, his apartment would probably be a mess), he decides the only way he can figure out how to market the products is to try them on - literally. So, after a glass of wine and some dancing (Clue #2: dancing?), he starts applying the lipstick, nail polish, hair removal wax, bra and pantyhose (Clue #3: huh? Then again, maybe he's watched the Footy Show too many times) when he is surprised by his teenage daughter Alexandra Marshall (Ashley Johnson) and her boyfriend Cameron in a hilarious scene. After that, he continues except a slapstick accident involving electrocution with a hairdryer in a bath tub enables him to hear what women think.

    At first he is really perturbed by this, but a session with a psychologist (played brilliantly by Bette Midler in a cameo role) convinces him that he can use this new talent to his advantage. He promptly starts to sabotage Darcy by stealing all her ideas as she is thinking them, and also to woo frustrated-aspiring-actress-working-as-a-waittress Lola (Marisa Tomei). However, just when his Machiavellian scheme is starting to work, he discovers he is starting to fall in love with Darcy and he also realizes Darcy is besotted with him.

    I think Mel and Helen are perfectly cast in their roles, and I'm not sure any other male actor would have carried off the role of Nick as successfully.

    One thing that perturbed me about the movie is the rather callous treatment that Lola gets from Nick, which goes totally against the flow of the plot - which is about how Nick starts becoming more sensitive to women as he listens in to their thoughts. I think she deserved better, and I felt really sorry for her.

    I noticed a number of minor plot inconsistencies in the film (in addition to the various goofs listed on IMDB). For example, early on in the film Nick talks about moving up to the "44th" floor once he is promoted to Creative Director. Yet, later on in the movie, we find that the new Creative Director Darcy is working on the same floor as Nick. So, does Darcy not get to work on the 44th floor (because she is a woman?) or is Nick already working on the 44th floor and he's too dumb to realize? Also, around 30 minutes into the film, Nick gets to hear a female poodle "think" to her owner "Please, monsieur, I need to poop" but in a deleted scene (featured in the trailer) he meets an ethnic woman in the park and she is thinking in a foreign language. So, he can understand dog-think but not ethnic-woman-think?

    Despite all that, I quite enjoyed this film - it's more a comedy than a romance, but well worth watching anyway. Somehow, it reminded me of another movie about an obnoxious advertising man learning to see things from a female perspective: Switch (starring Jimmy Smits and Ellen Barker). I'm not sure that a man watching this film will really gain any real insights into the female psyche, but hey we in the Sisterhood do guard the details of our secret women's business quite closely!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    For a film as recent and as hyped as this, I would have expected a flawless film source and video transfer. Unfortunately, this 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced transfer is plagued by rather bad instances of grain and occasional posterization. For example, there is grain present around 72:58, 95:17 and around 110-111 minutes into the film, and there is a bit of posterization on Mel Gibson's skin from 3:46-4:05.

    Sharpness and shadow detail are pretty good, as you would expect from a recent film, and colour saturation is fairly good, though the colour balance looks slightly forced and unnatural at times.

    There is one subtitle track: English for the Hearing Impaired. I turned it on briefly, and it seemed reasonably accurate and detailed, transcribing auditory cues and even lyrics of songs in addition to dialogue.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL) and the layer change occurs at 72:50 between Chapters 14 and 15. It occurs during a screen blank in between scenes and is quite well placed. However, it is still noticeable because of the pause in the underlying soundtrack.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc, both in English - one in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kb/s, and another in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kb/s. There is also an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kb/s. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, as well as the audio commentary track.

    In general, I quite like this audio track - dialogue sounds clear and natural at all times, and the music nicely blends with and supports the dialogue. I did not encounter any dialogue synchronization issues.

    The music is a mixture of original material by Alan Silvestri and a medley of Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter songs that reminded me of another romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle.

    This is a mainly dialogue-driven film, so the rear surround channels and the subwoofer are sparingly used. The scene where Mel Gibson encounters a whole bunch of female joggers thinking at 31:05-31:12 is one of the few places where the rear surrounds are used to provide an enveloping effect, and ambient noises like rain are also channelled occasionally to the rear speakers. The subwoofer was rarely engaged, apart from during thunderstorm scenes such as around 40:25 and also 99:00-99:20.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This disc comes with a rather generous collection of extras, including a Showtime featurette not present on the R1 version.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menus are all 16x9 enhanced, and the main menu animation features voice-overs of women thinking. The main menu and special features menus are animated and include audio. The other menus are static but include audio.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain

    This has always been my favourite DD trailer. Subtler than some of the others, and some nice panning effects.

Audio Commentary-Nancy Meyers (Director) & Jon Huttman (Production Designer)

    This is a rather patchy commentary, with sporadic contributions from both Nancy Meyers and Jon Huttman. Nancy talks about various aspects of the film, including casting, Mel anecdotes, Helen's clothes, how certain scenes were constructed (champagne cork), as well as actual commentary on the scenes. Jon concentrates more on pointing out details of the sets, such as Nick's apartment, the advertising agency and the coffee shop, which I admit are pretty impressive in terms of detail. Nancy mentions quite a few deleted scenes that I wish they could have included as extras.

    Most of the commentary is provided by Nancy, with Jon's contributions limited to a few scenes here and there, but even then there are long periods where all we hear is the audio track of the film. Nancy and Jon obviously recorded the commentary track together whilst watching the film, as they respond both to each other and to events in the film. I think the periods of silence are due to both of them being engrossed in watching the film!

Theatrical Trailer (2:14)

    This is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The video transfer is slightly softer and even grainier than the main feature. Interestingly, the trailer seem to feature some scenes not present in the film itself, and some of the lines are altered; the word "p****" is changed to "crotch," "poo poo" instead of "poop", and so forth.

Featurette-Showtime Interviews With Andrew Warne (4:14)

    This is an interesting Australian-sourced extra - a featurette originally shown on Foxtel's Showtime channel. It features Andrew Warne at the Hollywood premiere of the film. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with excerpts from the film in 1.85:1 letterboxed. Andrew interviews Loretta Devine ('Flo'), Mel Gibson ('Nick Marshall'), Helen Hunt ('Darcy McGuire'), and Nancy Meyers (Director). The excerpts seem to have been mainly taken from the trailer as they feature the same alteration of lines and deleted scenes as the trailer.

Teaser Trailer (2:02)

    This is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The quality of the video transfer is similar to that of the theatrical trailer.

Featurette-Making Of (16:07)

    This is a standard promotional featurette (presented in 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0) featuring behind-the-scenes shots, excerpts from the film (in 1.85:1 letterboxed), and interviews with Mel Gibson, Alan Alda, Nancy Meyers, Marisa Tomei, Mark Feuerstein, Helen Hunt, and Ashley Johnson. Nancy Meyers looks and even talks like an upcoming Nora Ephron.

Featurette-A Look Inside (11:40)

    This is another promotional featurette (presented in 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0) featuring behind-the-scenes shots, excerpts from the film (in 1.85:1 letterboxed), and interviews with Nancy Meyers, Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, and Ashley Johnson.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    This features rather detailed biographies and filmographies of:     The biographies are presented as 16x9 enhanced stills.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version misses out on:     The Region 1 version misses out on:     For once, we seem to get more extras than the R1 version, so I will unequivocally declare the Region 4 version to be the disc of choice.

Summary

    What Women Want is a fairly predictable but quite funny and watchable romantic comedy. It is presented on a disc with a slightly problematic video transfer but fairly decent audio transfer, and a very pleasing collection of extras. We even get an Australian-sourced extra not present on the Region 1 disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, July 02, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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