Former A-lister Mel Gibson is enjoying a bit of a resurgence in his movie-making career and one of his earlier, popular films can now be seen on Netflix.
What Women Want is a 2000 romantic comedy fantasy starring Mel Gibson in a role he was born to play. His Nick Marshall is a Chicago advertising executive and chauvinistic pig. His skills include selling products to men while also grading out with an A in seducing women.
Knowing he is in line for a promotion, he gets a shock (the first of many) when his boss Dan (Alan Alda) announces that he is hiring Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) in order to broaden the company’s appeal towards women. Definitely not what Nick wanted to hear. Unbeknownst to him, he is going to be hearing a whole lot more very soon.
Meanwhile, Nick is also experiencing a disconnect with his daughter Alex. She is in high school and Nick, who knows what guys want, is the over-protective type, which doesn’t sit well with Alex. Especially when she introduces Nick to her 18-year-old boyfriend.
It’s a rough start between Nick and Darcy. When she asks him to get familiar with feminine products, he takes them home to test them out. While testing them, Nick falls into his bathtub while holding onto an electric hairdryer, shocking himself (the second of many) and knocking himself unconscious. When he wakes, he wakes to the biggest shock of all. He can hear women’s thoughts.
Knowing most women find him contemptible and sleazy, he visits his former therapist, who also finds him sleazy, but surprisingly opens his eyes to the possibilities of his new gift. Suddenly, Nick has a new purpose in life. Controlled sleaze.
At first, Nick uses his new superpowers to his ultimate advantage. Taking Darcy’s inner ideas and making them work. But for all of his scheming, trying to get ahead and make Darcy look bad, he is also learning more about the women around him, including his daughter.
There is Annie (Sarah Paulson), Nick’s secretary, who actually has an Ivy League education and resents Nick for only having her run his errands. Then there is Erin (Judy Greer), a copy girl who appears invisible to everyone. When Nick gets close to her, he can hear how defeated she is and how she is contemplating killing herself. Marisa Tomei is Lola, a one-time lover of Nick’s who still wants a relationship with him.
Nick’s concentration, though, is on his daughter and their relationship, which he is trying to rebuild. He is also trying to sabotage Darcy, a feat that works at first, but over time has Nick resenting himself. Nick is falling for Darcy and she for him.
When Nick commits the ultimate advertising sin by stealing Darcy’s idea for a big Nike campaign, Darcy loses her job. Can Nick convince Dan that it was Darcy’s ad idea? Does Nick repair his relationship with his daughter? Nick knowing what women want turns out to be more complicated than when he was a clueless, chauvinistic pig.
Say what you will about Mel Gibson, but he does comedy quite well. He also does male chauvinism quite well too. His paring with Helen Hunt is a nice fit, both actors near the top of their game back in 2000. Nancy Meyers directed What Women Want from a script by writers Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa, and Diane Drake. On its $74 million budget, Meyers brought in a very healthy $374 million at the box office. It was a definite hit.
There may not be a name more derisive coming from Hollywood than Mel Gibson’s. It wasn’t always that way though. For a while there, a long while, Mel Gibson ruled Hollywood. Beginning with the 1979 George Miller low-budget hit Mad Max, Mel Gibson began a chart-climbing career that saw him earn big bucks with big-name movies.
His follow-up to Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, as well as the third in the series, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, put him in line for an even bigger franchise, Lethal Weapon. With Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson jumped into A-List territory and would remain there for quite some time. Gibson, along with his Lethal Weapon partner, Danny Glover, would end up filming four Lethal Weapon movies (with a fifth supposedly on its way) with great success.
Unfortunately, as his career got bigger and bigger, Mel Gibson’s demons followed. Alcoholism, abuse, and anti-Semitism all played a big part in Gibson’s eventual downfall.
Mel Gibson claims he began drinking at the age of 13. He ended up taking some time away from making movies in the early ‘90s in an attempt to deal with his addiction. It never took as in 2006 he was involved in a highly publicized incident when he was arrested for drunk driving. During the arrest, Gibson went on an anti-Semitic tirade leveled against the arresting officers. “F*cking Jews,” Gibson yelled. “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”
Gibson would eventually plead no contest, apologizing for his despicable behavior. Lesson learned? Apparently not. In 2012, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas says Gibson backed out on a movie they were making together about Jewish hero Judah Maccabee because Gibson hated Jews. Eszterhas wrote a nine-page letter to Gibson with his concerns about Gibson backing out of the project. Eszterhas also said Gibson constantly used terms such as “hebes”, “Jewboys”, and “oven dodgers” during their time together.
Domestic violence has also been part of Gibson’s checkered past. One famous incident came in 2010 when a racist and misogynistic voice message from Gibson to his then-girlfriend Russian pianist, Oksana Grigorieva, was made public. “You look like a f*cking pig in heat, and if you get r*ped by a pack of n***ers, it will be your fault.”
For years Mel Gibson was blacklisted in Hollywood. No one wanted to work with him and even today, producers, directors, and fellow actors, while slowly welcoming him back, keep a wide berth. Sometimes history is hard to forget no matter how apologetic Gibson has become.
One thing for certain, though, is the talent that Mel Gibson has. Gibson is slowly rebuilding what he once had, though he will probably never be the A-lister he once was. He hasn’t completely crossed over to B-movie status, but he definitely is skirting the edges.
Since 2016 with Blood Father, Gibson has appeared in six movies. He showed off, again, his comedic side with the 2017 Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home 2. He was also part of the highly acclaimed film The Professor and the Madman opposite another former A-lister in Sean Penn. Gibson also starred as a crazed Santa Claus in Fatman.
Mel Gibson looks to capitalize on his recent box office resurgence as he has no less than eight films lined up. There is even a rumor, supposedly confirmed by franchise director Richard Donner, that Gibson and Glover will return for one last go-around as Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon 5 even though they are most definitely way too old for that sh*t.
Who knows if that will actually happen but until then, you can catch Mel Gibson in fine comedic form on Netflix in What Women Want.