He has finally arrived. The Mad Max, the man's man, the lethal one, seems to have
finally bid farewell to his self-macho image and has, instead, tried to adopt
a stance where he pleases the feminist movement by trying to understand what this
species really wants. Well, he was tailor-made for the role, wasn't he?
So here goes the transformation. Nick Marshal (Mel) is your typical male of the bygone era. Brought up in Las Vegas with a showgirl as his mother, he has a big hangover of that era where girls were tough, glamorous and did not mind getting a pat on their bottom. Cut to the present where he is a divorced father whose 15-year-old daughter prefers to call him uncle dad, where he is lost in the prudish New World of woman-power where all women share a general opinion about this advertising executive being an 'asshole'.
Then he discovers, courtesy a mishap with an electric dryer, that he can hear what women think. Instead of being repentant about being called an MCP and a 'cocky bullshitter', he puts his 'gift' to good use on the advice of psychiatrist Bette Midler. He steals the ideas of his rival-cum-boss Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) and wins a big account for his advertising firm that is struggling to find a foothold in a consumer market dominated by women. He also begins to understand his daughter better and the need for being chivalrous and sympathetic to women's needs.
But the most telling and the most hilarious effect is seen in his relationship with his horny girlfriend Lola (Marisa Tomei) who he later shrugs off by posing as a gay. Their escapades in bed highlight the basic tip of contemporary sex where you have to read a woman's mind before making her squirm in ecstasy.
But he then commits the mistake of falling for his boss. Bitten by the love bug, he confesses to his misdemeanor. She fires him as a co-worker but takes him on as a reformed lover. One realizes here that, in the process of giving contemporary themes a feel-good political correctness, the innovation and ingenuity, and hence the fun, are lost.
Gibson puts up a very credible performance and his transformation is quite smooth. He does sometimes become awkward, especially in the scenes where he is the reformed guy. But Helen Hunt clearly disappoints in a unidimensional character of a nice career girl. She also stays very rigid and tacit, giving herself a performance slump in the process.
Director Nancy Meyers, a woman herself, deliberately tries to bring out that fact
amidst the parleys between Hunt and Gibson. Perhaps she wanted to underplay the
all-too-obvious contradictions of women power. That's essentially anti-feminist,