A Movie Review Eight Years After the Fact: What Women Want

1 Jun

Don’t worry, the War on Terr’r is still in progress, but I saw something last night that nearly blew my fucking mind, and I had to comment on it, hence this interruption in the forward march of freedom in the War on Terr’r. What, you’re asking, could possibly be important enough to supersede war coverage? Mel Gibson.

Last night, I actually watched all 127 minutes of the Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt shitfest What Women Want. I’m still sort of in shock and not sure how to process this film. I mean, I almost think that the team (yes, it was a group affair) that wrote this movie are satirical geniuses on the order of Stephen Colbert, but I’m just bewildered. If it isn’t satire, everyone involved in it ought to start lying and saying it was, or else commit seppuku right away.

When I finished watching this thing, I wasn’t sure who should be most offended by it. It’s a toss-up between women, straight men, gay men, movie-goers, Asians, African Americans, and people with eyes.

I’m sure none of you plan to watch this film, but in case some Sixpence None the Richer fan has accidentally found herself on my page, I’ll warn you, I’m about to give the whole of this fucker away.

The story is that a “lovable” misogynistic tool/absentee father (winky winky) who works as an ad man and has no trouble getting women into bed — despite being Mel Gibson — finds himself working for a female boss who wants to corner the market in advertising to women.

Mel, being that he only knows enough about women to get them to take their pants off, is having trouble coming up with ideas for how to pitch products to women (but he can still somehow get them to get naked, natch), so he decides to use a bunch of “women’s products” himself in order to “get inside the female mind.” He proceeds to put on nail polish, lipstick, and pantyhose, then ends up taking a dive into the bathtub with a running hairdryer in his hand when he slips on some bath beads that he has spilled on the bathroom floor (I know, right? Bath beads aren’t fucking marbles, guys. They’re soft. Gah!). He wakes up in the morning and finds that, because he was nearly electrocuted to death or something while wearing pantyhose, he can hear women’s thoughts. Jesus Christ. They didn’t even try. They could have come up with something. Like maybe a crystal skull? Haven’t these people seen Vice Versa or Like Father, Like Son?

Anyway, he heads to work and finds out all the women he works with think he’s an asshole (surprise!). He then also discovers that he can read the mind of his new boss, Helen Hunt, and steal all of her ideas in order to undermine her position and steal her job. But — and I know this will come as a shock — he accidentally falls in love with her, despite the fact that by this time he has figured out that he can use his gift for hearing women’s thoughts to manipulate them into bed. Because, you see, this misogynistic asshole really has a heart of gold. Hooo!

He also uses his gift to bond with his teenage daughter, with whom he has heretofore maintained no relationship, and wipe away years of neglect and resentment. His newfound insight into the female mind is so impressive, in fact, that he becomes the go-to girl around the office for women who need relationship advice, and from these women he really learns what it feels like to be a woman. We’re supposed to know this because there’s a scene in which Mel is shown eating a rice cake and crying while watching a woman tell her weight loss story on TV. Because that’s what being a woman is all about: eating and crying at the same time.

In the end, Mel learns how to be a human being (and we’re to excuse him for not having been one up until this point) and comes clean to his powerful lady-boss, who, despite being a powerful lady-boss, is dumb enough to forgive him, and they live happily ever after.

I think I’ll go through the groups that ought to be offended by this movie one-by-one, and give the reasons for each. First, since I am one, I’ll tell you why this movie ought to offend women even more than the fact that Axl Rose calls his new band Guns ‘n’ Roses offends me. This movie makes a LOT of weird assumptions about women, chief among which is that we’re supposed to find Mel Gibson irresistible. Seriously. He’s a fucking simian. I won’t bother to go into the hundreds of stupid stereotypes that make up the bulk of this film because I don’t have to. Let it be enough to say that the writers of this movie must have had one hell of a brainstorming session to come up with so many and to find a way to fit them all into 127 minutes.

This movie ought to irritate men as well, because Mel Gibson’s character is the biggest asshole/idiot to hit the screen since Biodome. Men, according to these writers, are stupid, ego-maniacal psychopaths who think of nothing other than how to bang as many women as possible and avoid talking to them after the fact. Well, I guess that’s sort of true for most men, but I’m sure there are a few dudes who should be offended by that. Right?

Movie-goers are likely the group who should find themselves most insulted once this movie’s credits roll. I mean, who wants to spend 127 minutes of their time being told they’re stupid? That is most definitely the message in this film, because the writers couldn’t be bothered to insert a single original idea, plot element, sentence of dialog, or even an interesting camera angle into this parade of bullshit.

I suppose the writers did manage one novel achievement: they left almost no group of people un-insulted.

On the first day Mel can hear women’s thoughts, he hears the black woman who works as a doorwoman at his building have the following thought about him: “Mmm- MMMM! Look atchyo fine-ass self! Rawr!” No, I’m not kidding. Unbelievable. But that’s not all…

When Marisa Tomei’s character confronts Mel about why he hasn’t called her for six days after they had sex, he reads her thoughts, hearing, “He had better be gay. I can’t take rejection again!” So Mel proceeds to do the most embarrassing gay impression I’ve ever seen, which is not all that strange in hindsight, knowing what we now know about Mel’s love for the Bible and right-wing politics. But that’s still not all…

Mel’s character has to go seek out the home of a girl who works at the office who he believes to be considering suicide so he can save her by offering her her dream job at the ad agency (I know), and for some fucking reason that I can’t fathom, she lives in Chinatown, despite being a bairen. He can’t find the girl’s house, so he turns to an ancient Chinese lady on the street who, somehow, knows where everyone in Chinatown lives. She’s completely mute but takes Mel by the hand and leads him through a labyrinth of alleys to the girl’s house, then ducks out. (I was pretty shocked to see that the ancient woman didn’t do a little half-bow with her hands in the prayer position to the tune of that stupid bit of “Oriental” music at the beginning of “Turning Japanese” by the Vapors.) Now, there was no fucking reason this girl had to live in Chinatown. I strongly suspect that the writers included that element so that they could offend just one more group of people before the movie ended. The only way they could have made that intent more obvious would be if they had had the woman say, “Me Chinese, me play joke, me go pee-pee in your Coke.”

I give it a 9. After writing this and thinking about it, I’m convinced that the writers have put one over on everyone but a select few people, and that only we can see the genius of their satire of the romantic comedy genre.


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26 Responses to “A Movie Review Eight Years After the Fact: What Women Want”

  1. Mary Tracy9 May 30, 2008 at 12:12 PM #

    The only bit I’ve seen about this movie is a scene in which he’s talking to another man and he says that “women don’t even like penises”. And I thought, “that’s SOOOO true”!

  2. Konservo May 30, 2008 at 12:39 PM #

    Whoa, I didn’t know Axl had a new band. I bet it’s a wannabe industrial group.

  3. Me May 30, 2008 at 6:24 PM #

    What?? I LOVE penises! Too bad most mens’ minds are nothing to lust over, though….

  4. Nine Deuce May 30, 2008 at 7:03 PM #

    I think “I LOVE penises!” might be the funniest comment I’ve ever gotten.

  5. Nine Deuce May 30, 2008 at 7:05 PM #

    Konservo – His new band is the most embarrassing thing since the Bullet Boys. It’s Axl, some dude who wears a KFC bucket on his head, and some other people, and they write awful songs and pretend to be Guns ‘n’ Roses, despite the fact that none of them were involved in writing any of the songs on Appetite for Destruction, the only good thing the band ever did, and quite possibly the greatest album of all time (if comedy is one of your criteria for choosing the best album of all time).

    • Imaginary September 28, 2009 at 7:27 AM #

      The KFC bucket guy is Buckethead. He’s awesome. And I think he’s a vegetarian because he only speaks with a chicken hand puppet and his bucket usually says funeral on the side. And I think he said he was a vegetarian once. And he worked with Serj Tankian, so that makes it good enough for me.

  6. Windstorm May 30, 2008 at 7:07 PM #

    Good review, N.D. The very sight of Mel G. upsets me these days, so I’ve been unable to get through the whole film. But I love your review – the Chinatown observation is hilarious.

    I suppose it’s possible that it’s a brilliant satire, but my intuition tells me “mmmmmmm, maybe not.”

    ~ Suzann

  7. Me May 30, 2008 at 9:50 PM #

    Well, what can I say? I’ve always been an ardent admirer! *blushes*

  8. chlorophyll May 31, 2008 at 1:09 AM #

    GAHHH penises. Are overrated. I am this close * * to taking a vow of celibacy and hightailing it to a Buddhist convent after my last relationship. Ladies: never date immature mamas’ boys. They will drag you down and kill your soul.

  9. Genevieve May 31, 2008 at 3:11 PM #

    While I have only seen bits and pieces of this stupid movie (and was slightly impressed by the fact that they admitted that ‘penis envy’ was a lie), and despise Mel Gibson and thank you for commenting on how idiotic it is…I do take issue with your comment that Helen Hunt must be anorexic.

  10. Nine Deuce May 31, 2008 at 4:01 PM #

    She has symptoms, but maybe I didn’t need to say that.

  11. wiggles June 1, 2008 at 8:36 PM #

    You’re my new favorite blogger.
    I rented this movie years ago, despite warnings that I’d only be disappointed, in hopes that maybe someone might have some inkling of a clue that women aren’t a monolithic hivemind and that there’s no way of finding out or summarizing the mentality of each member of 52% of the world’s population.
    Nope.
    On a happy note, I did rewatch Tootsie last night. Glee!

  12. Nine Deuce June 1, 2008 at 8:48 PM #

    Thanks!

    I haven’t seen Tootsie since I was little. I think I need to rent it, now that you’ve reminded me of its existence.

  13. Skulligan June 3, 2008 at 3:40 PM #

    Oohhh, I have to defend the new memebers of Axl’s new band.
    I agree, this new formation is utter crap, but the band members, outside of this Guns & Roses gig, are really talented. Buckethead is a very odd fellow but he happens to be a guitar virtuoso. Bryan “Brain” Mantia is also a really great drummer.
    I think both of these dudes are just in it for the money, for though they are talented, they are also eccentric, and can’t get too many main stream, high paying, MTV type gigs.

  14. Skulligan June 3, 2008 at 3:44 PM #

    Yeah, actually, I think Buckethead is incognito because he DOESN’T want to be on MTV. Though I’m sure touring with axl rose is making him a pretty penny. I’m pretty sure he enjoys live performances.

  15. octopod June 4, 2008 at 5:36 AM #

    This sounds like the worst movie in history. I would watch it “for the lulz” but I think my ears might start bleeding. Thanks for taking the bullet for us.

    Also, who on earth finds Mel Gibson attractive? And then there’s that whole scary racist uberCatholic thing…ugh!

    I will, however, put in another vote in favour of penises. I like ’em. They’re cute.

  16. SAAM June 5, 2008 at 3:34 AM #

    Some penises are cute. I’ve seen a lot. (I am a nurse, after all!)

  17. Screaming Lemur July 21, 2008 at 3:00 AM #

    I always thought it’d be cool if the plural of penis was “peni” or maybe “penii”. Like octopus, octopi? I know the spelling isn’t right for it but it’d be cool.
    Penises (penii) in general are… there. They’re occasionally fun to play with, as long as they’re clean.
    This movie… I actually watched it back in the day. Yeah, just no. That’s all I can say: no, man, just no.

  18. Immir April 17, 2010 at 10:40 PM #

    Yeh, this movie was a joke and it totally made women out to be simple. Such as when he can hear into women’s heads walking down a street he hears a woman worrying about why some guy hasn’t called and another counting calories. You know, because that is all women think about…

  19. lizor April 13, 2011 at 11:16 AM #

    Help! Is anyone else having trouble opening the page with the April 11 “Avatar” post?

    I’ve tried two different browsers and I am getting a “Sorry, no posts matched your criteria” message. I’ve tried every link in the sidebar.

    Wanhhhh!

  20. joy April 13, 2011 at 12:11 PM #

    I was rereading this last night and laughing myself silly. A dude at the hostel asked me what was so funny, so I read him the passage about who should be most offended by this (women, straight men, gay men, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, people who have eyes).

    He thought about it, then responded with utmost sincerity, “Well … what DO you want?”

    D’oh. Way to prove the point, dude. But I think that means that you can cross “straight men” (and most gay men?) off that list.

    (For the record, my reply was to stare at him levelly and say, “Uh, to be treated like a human being, probably. I know that’s top on *my* list. It’s kind of ridiculous how hard that seems to be for men to figure out.”)

  21. lizor April 14, 2011 at 7:01 AM #

    Thanks.

  22. Rian April 14, 2011 at 4:24 PM #

    I always thought it’d be cool if the plural of penis was “peni” or maybe “penii”.

    In the interest of useless pedantry, the Latin plural of penis is penes. Perhaps penes lacks the coolness factor of peni, and thus English speakers seem to prefer penises to penes. However, the similarly situated testes has not suffered the same fate, probably because the singular testis is so rarely heard.

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