Making the Grades
Raised backstage while his Vegas Show-girl mother strutted her stuff, Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) grew up believing women were only sex objects. While this perspective had lead to womanizing, and a profitable advertising career, it is also the reason his boss (Alan Alda) chooses Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt) instead of Nick, to be the new creative director for the agency that desperately needs to secure a place in the predominantly female consumer market.
To win some new accounts, Darcy provides her staff with a package of female products and challenges them to come up with some promotion ideas. In order to think like a chick, Nick tries out the samples (like nail polish and panty hose), in the privacy of his bathroom. About the time he is putting on a turquoise bra, his fifteen-year-old daughter and her boyfriend show up. Having forgotten that he agreed to look after her while his ex-wife was away on her honeymoon, the meeting gets off on the wrong foot, and his efforts to recover the situation result in an accident involving the bathtub and a hair dryer. (This is one of two electrocution scenes that are played for laughs.)
But his biggest shock occurs when he discovers the incident has enabled him to hear what women are thinking. When his psychiatrist suggests this may be a gift, Nick decides to take advantage of his new insight by stealing Darcy's ideas and picking up the coffee shop girl. Unfortunately he also learns some things he'd rather not know, like most of his female acquaintances consider him a jerk, his daughter is planning to lose her virginity on her boyfriend's prom night, he is not the lover he believes himself to be (which is explored in intimate verbal detail during a sexual encounter), and the woman he has set out to destroy is a sensitive and trusting person.
A technically solid movie with capable talent, parents will likely be concerned by the script's sexual innuendoes, drinking, smoking, profanities, and chauvinistic portrayals of aggressive women, even if the movie tries to justify them with heart warming reconciliation scenes. While I cannot speak for the whole gender, Nick's two weak stabs at trying to change his lying and cheating ways--by lying and cheating--hardly seems to guarantee the sort of sincere and committed relationship that most women want.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about What Women Want.
Many psychiatrists have studied the difference between the way women and men think. This is the subject of a popular book (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus) written by John Grey and mentioned in the movie. What differences have you observed between the way males and females think?