Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

Year 9, Day 42 - 2/11/17 - Movie #2,542

BEFORE: This may seem like an odd choice, because it's not a traditional Hollywood romance film - but God knows, a lot of those have let me down over the last two weeks, so what the heck, it's worth a shot.  And Kristen Johnson, who didn't show up in ANY movies during the first 8 years of this project, carries over from "Bride Wars" and appears for the third time in a week.  Hey, you live by the linking, you die by the linking.  

My reasoning for including this here, beyond that, is that this film tells the backstory of how the two couples, the Flintstones and the Rubbles, met and fell in love.  That's got to fit somewhere into a romance chain, right? 

But before I watch a film that received 0 Oscar nominations, but 4 Razzie nominations, let's peek at the TCM schedule of films that WERE nominated for Oscars, for Sunday, February 12:
6:00 AM The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
8:30 AM The Heiress (1949)
10:30 AM High Society (1956)
12:30 PM Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
2:45 PM Honeysuckle Rose (1980)
5:00 PM How the West Was Won (1962)
8:00 PM How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
9:45 PM The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
11:45 PM I Married a Witch (1942)
1:15 AM I Remember Mama (1948)
3:45 AM I Vitelloni (1953)

I've only seen ONE of these 11 films - "How to Marry a Millionaire", but I've got plans to watch "High Society" before February ends, so I'm counting that one.  2 seen out of 11 brings me up to 55 seen out of 128.  I could record "How the West Was Won", because it's got Debbie Reynolds in it, but that feels off-topic.  And it raises the question of why TCM's not airing any of the 11 Best Picture winners that I still need to see - like "How Green Was My Valley", "Gentleman's Agreement" and "The Greatest Show on Earth"?  I mean, I understand the need to shake things up differently each year, but you can't just ignore Best Picture winners, right?  Of the 11 I haven't seen, they're only airing 1, "The Great Ziegfeld", and I already missed that one.  Oh, well.

THE PLOT: The Flintstones and the Rubbles go on a trip to Rock Vegas, where Wilma is pursued by playboy Chip Rockefeller.

AFTER: Hey, as long as I watched one update of a cartoon show I watched as a kid ("Mr. Peabody & Sherman") already this year, I might as well watch another.  (And last year I finally crossed those damn "Brady Bunch" films off the list, too...) Then I'll never have to watch this again.  But why not watch the other "Flintstones" movie first, the one that was released six years before this one?  Ah, but this is a prequel to that film, so watching it first is perfectly fine, narratively chronographically.  

It's funny, but when the film was over, I saw that "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (another film with Kristen Johnston in it) was playing on cable, so I watched that for a while.  Remember how Austin couldn't figure out the mechanics of time travel, so his boss told him (and the audience) not to worry so much about it, and to just try and enjoy it?  I'm going to try to think of that while I review this film, it might help.  Because I know this is just a silly film for kids (or their parents, who grew up watching the original show), the equivalent of a live-action cartoon, and it's not meant to be taken seriously, so I shouldn't.

The original cartoon was the first animated series that ran in prime-time, and for a long time was the most financially successful animated show, until "The Simpsons" came around.  And somehow it felt really old, even back then, and quite innovative at the same time.  That's probably because it depicted Stone-Age life mixed with modern-day conveniences like drive-in movies and take-out restaurants.  If you meet people today who are convinced that dinosaurs and cavemen walked the earth at the same time, feel free to blame "The Flintstones".  These people are also willing to believe that said cavemen showered with the aid of wooly mammoth trunks, and kept tiny proto-piglike animals under their kitchen sinks to act as garbage disposals. 

You take all this stuff in when you're a kid, and it does have an effect over time.  Like in my case, it eventually turned me into the type of person who says, "Hey, that's not right, not even a caveman could propel a car that size around with his feet!" or "Just because you put a bird's beak down onto an LP disc, that wouldn't produce sounds like a record player!"  But if I'm ever going to enjoy movies again, I've got to learn to turn off my mind, relax and float downstream.  Let's just go with it, shall we?

The original show borrowed quite liberally from "The Honeymooners", everything from focusing on two couples who live next door to each other, to turning the "Raccoon Lodge" into the "Water Buffalo Lodge".  And then they dropped in a lot of cultural references to stars with altered names, like Stony Curtis and Ann Margrock.  But the show also got away with some adult issues, like having Fred and Wilma sleep in the same bed (even in 1960, it was still considered vulgar to show a married couple share a bed on TV) and the Rubbles adopting baby Bamm-Bamm because they couldn't have a baby on their own.  Plus they somehow got away with mixing in some sci-fi, when the alien The Great Gazoo would drop by - I never realized as a kid how weird this was, to show cavemen and a alien from a flying saucer in the same story.  

But that's where this movie starts, with Gazoo being sent to the primitive world of Earth, in order to observe its concepts of love and cavemen's mating rituals (Hey, thanks for keeping me on topic...).  And it turns out that cavemen weren't of low intelligence, they just got tongue-tied when asking out attractive cavewomen.  And who knew that Fred initially asked out Betty, and they double-dated with Barney and Wilma, before switching partners? 

We also learn that Wilma came from a rich family, the Slaghooples, but had a falling-out with her mother, Pearl, and left home, forsaking the family fortune, to make her own way in Bedrock.  She only kept one nod to her background, her famous pearl necklace, but otherwise fell for Fred and his down-to-earth workman attitude and lifestyle.  And Barney and Betty bonded over their unusual laughs - but the road to marriage wasn't easy for either couple.

Fred had to compete with Wilma's ex-boyfriend, Chip Rockefeller, the manipulative owner of the "Tardust" Casino in Rock Vegas (ASIDE: I don't get "Rock Vegas", I mean, "Rock" sounds nothing like "Las", so the gag doesn't really work.  It just feels forced.).  People who run casinos just can't be trusted, they're evil liars (Oh, why didn't we as a country pay attention to this?) and Chip sets out to ruin Fred, through gambling, framing him for robbery and blackmailing him to leave Wilma alone.  And Barney similarly has to keep Betty from running off on tour with Mick Jagged of the Rolling Stones.  

The results in both cases seem like foregone conclusions, because we all know that the Flintstones and the Rubbles DO get together, but it is somewhat interesting to learn someone's attempt at creating the backstory.  So I think they did OK here, given the narrative constraints that prevented the story from moving too far in any particular direction. 

But what's really primitive here is the special effects - it's really a peek into the "caveman" days of Hollywood production, and by that I mean it's very last-millennium with its weird combination of puppetry and rough CGI on the dinosaur characters.  The dinosaur that Fred uses as a crane in the quarry doesn't look alive, not at all, it's just a prop when compared to Dino, who's a fully animated character. If they made this movie today they'd just shoot all of the characters against green-screen and then place them in a fully-animated Bedrock background.  Here it feels like there was a plan to replace some of the faker-looking dinosaurs with CGI, and someone forgot to follow through.

Also starring Mark Addy (last seen in "Around the World in 80 Days"), Stephen Baldwin (last seen in "A Simple Twist of Fate"), Jane Krakowski (last seen in "Pixels"), Thomas Gibson, Joan Collins, Alan Cumming (last seen in "The Anniversary Party"), Harvey Korman, Alex Meneses, Tony Longo, Danny Woodburn, with cameos from Jack McGee, Taylor Negron (last seen in "The Last Boy Scout"), Steve Schirripa (last heard in "Planes: Fire & Rescue"), John Cho (last seen in "Star Trek Beyond"), Kristen Stewart (last seen in "American Ultra"), John Taylor (from Duran Duran) and the voice of Rosie O'Donnell (last seen in "Pitch Perfect 2") and the singing voice of Ann-Margret (last seen in "52 Pick-Up").

RATING: 4 out of 10 Rock-ettes

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bride Wars

Year 9, Day 41 - 2/10/17 - Movie #2,541

BEFORE: Kate Hudson carries over from "Dr. T & The Women", a film that ended with a wedding, and it looks like we're headed the same direction tonight.  Sorry if you're expecting me to include "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days", but every man has his limits.  

Coming up on TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" slate for Saturday, February 11:
7:00 AM The Green Goddess (1930)
8:30 AM Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? (1967)
10:30 AM Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
12:45 PM A Guy Named Joe (1943)
3:00 PM Gypsy
6:00 PM Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
8:00 PM Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
10:00 PM A Hard Day's Night (1964)
11:45 PM Harvey (1950)
2:00 AM The Harvey Girls (1946)
4:00 AM The Hasty Heart (1950)

Another good line-up, with 5 films that I've seen: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" (set in San Francisco, part of my around-the-world movie trip from 2012), "Gypsy", "Hannah and Her Sisters" (my favorite Woody Allen film), "A Hard Day's Night", and "Harvey" (which I finally got around to last year).   Another 5 out of 11 moves me up to 53 seen out of 117.  But I don't think I'll fare very well on the films beginning with I through K - and on Valentine's Day I may go 0 for 13.

THE PLOT: Two best friends become rivals when they schedule their weddings on the same day.

AFTER: Once again, I'm shocked by the level of mean-spirited prankery present in a Hollywood romantic comedy.  I thought I was done with this sort of thing last week, after THREE films chose to go this narrative route - "The Other Woman", "What Happens in Vegas" and "Just Married".  By putting romantic partners, or in this case friends, in competition with each other, it seems that gives writers free rein to have them all doing terrible things to each other, which here include (but are not limited to): booking the other's DJ, spreading false rumors, sabotaging a spray-tan session, dying the other bride's hair a weird color, crashing a bachelorette party, sending snack-based gifts to make the other bride too fat for her wedding dress, and ruining the other's reputation by putting incriminating party footage in her wedding montage.  

Unfortunately, I can believe this sort of thing when it comes to women, who (in my experience, anyway) tend to hold grudges for longer periods than men, and generally speaking, can be more vindictive.  So much for the "fairer sex" stereotype.  Men, on the other hand (again, in my experience) are not necessarily more forgiving, but are somehow able to get to a more productive stage of confrontation quicker, whether that's punching each other, having a beer together, settling things rationally, or some combination of all three.  Or they kill each other, but hey, either way, confrontation resolved. 

The main problem here is the set-up for the conflict - once the mix-up takes place, and both brides are scheduled to get married at the same venue on the same day (assuming that the Plaza Hotel can handle two weddings at once, which it apparently can) there is a simple, obvious solution.  Did you spot it?  Yep, have a joint wedding.  Problem solved.  These two are best friends, they have a lot of the same friends, they could share the costs of catering, tux rentals, bridesmaids dresses, etc.  Boom, problem solved.  

Only that solution gets summarily dismissed here - without going into any explanatory details regarding WHY that solution won't work.  If they said, "But I wanted pink bridesmaid dresses, and you want purple..." or "My decor is neo-classical, and you want modern..."  I could even have accepted "But the grooms hate each other..." or "I'm Christian, you're Jewish..." but no attempt to explain is even made - so it's clear that some screenwriter had no interest in simple solutions, or portraying people behaving in any rational manner whatsoever.  If I can solve the problem presented with just a few minutes of simple thought, then the screenplay's conflict is severely flawed.   

This refusal to logically accept the simplest solution therefore means that an alternative ending must be found, and I cannot, in good conscience, condone the nonsensical, bend-over-backwards attempt at a resolution here.  It requires me to accept that even though both women see the error of their vindictive ways, and realize that "an eye for an eye" leaves both parties blinded, it's simply too late to do anything about it.  And this is because money's been spent on two weddings, two DJs, two caterers, two of everything?  Unacceptable.  I think there's footage of the two women's joint friends saying something like, "Well, if this wedding starts to suck, then I'll just slide on over to the other one."  NO NO NO, you can't DO that at a wedding - if you're not there during the ceremony, you have no right to attend the receptionThese women's friends should have beaten them silly until they learned to compromise.  

What's even worse is that there's an attempt to mine some personal growth out of all this "woman's inhumanity to woman".  One bride learns that she's been too controlling and demanding, and this process of being terrible to her best friend has taught her to accept life's little disappointments, and the other one learns that she's been too easygoing and accepting over the years, and this process of fighting with her best friend has allowed her to find her voice and stand up for herself - but either way, these are HORRIBLE morals, because they justify all the savage prankery and ill will among friends!  By rights NO GOOD should come out of their misbehaviors.  

And what good does come is completely contradictory - one bride has a confrontation with her husband, who has (rightfully) disapproved of the terrible, vindictive person she has become.  But she justifies her horrible behavior with the fact that she's now standing up for herself, and getting what she wants.  OK, but it's not the empowered part of her that he's got a problem with, it's the fact that she's been acting like a raging bitch, and she was never like that before.  But I guess once you go bitch, you never go back, and instead of promising to change her ways and actually learn from her mistakes, nope, it's easier to just scrap the whole relationship and start fresh with someone else.  Another horrible moral lesson for the kids at home.    

Also starring Anne Hathaway (last seen in "The Intern"), Chris Pratt (last heard in "The Lego Movie"), Bryan Greenberg (last seen in "Vice"), Steve Howey, Kristen Johnston (last seen in "Music and Lyrics"), Candice Bergen (last seen in "A Merry Friggin' Christmas"), Michael Arden (last seen in "Source Code"), Hettienne Park (last seen in "Young Adult"), Lauren Bittner, with cameos from John Pankow (last seen in "Mortal Thoughts"), Bruce Altman (last seen in "Delivery Man"), Casey Wilson (last seen in "Gone Girl"), Paul Scheer (last seen in "Daddy's Home"), Jon Daly (last seen in "Zoolander 2").  

RATING: 3 out of 10 "save the date" cards 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dr. T & The Women

Year 9, Day 40 - 2/9/17 - Movie #2,540

BEFORE: SNOW DAY!  We got hit with 10 inches of snow this morning in the NYC area, so it didn't seem to make much sense to go to work and rely on two subway trains to Brooklyn that might not even get me there, so I did what I could today from home on Twitter and Instagram to help promote an ongoing Kickstarter campaign.  Working from home is not something I would do regularly, because there are just too many distractions at home - at least when I go to one of my offices, I can be more focused.  As it is, eating lunch and shoveling snow took up most of my day, and I'm at the age where shoveling snow for 15 minutes will exhaust me enough that I'll need a nap immediately after, and any other physical activity is just out of the question for the rest of the day.

Helen Hunt carries over from "What Women Want", and it's another female-heavy ensemble tonight with one male star, released in the same year, 2000.  

And here's what's coming up on TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" slate for tomorrow, February 10:
6:30 AM Good News (1947)
8:15 AM The Goodbye Girl (1977)
10:15 AM Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969)
1:00 PM The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
2:45 PM Grand Hotel (1932)
4:45 PM Grand Prix (1966)
8:00 PM The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
10:30 PM The Great McGinty (1940
12:00 AM The Great Santini (1979)
2:00 AM The Great Waltz (1938)
4:00 AM The Great Zeigfeld (1936)

I've seen another 4 out of these 11 - "The Goodbye Girl", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "Grand Hotel" and "The Grapes of Wrath", so I'm holding my own at 48 seen out of 106, but I still feel like my record is slowly slipping.

THE PLOT: Dr. T is a wealthy Dallas gynecologist who finds his idealist life beginning to fall apart when his wife suffers a nervous breakdown, and a golf instructor is the only woman who offers him any comfort and salvation. 

AFTER: I've heard a lot about Robert Altman over the years, and I know some people are really into his work, but I don't think I've seen that many films directed by him.  "The Player" of course, and also "Short Cuts" come to mind, but I had to look at his IMDB listing to realize that he also directed "MASH" and "Gosford Park", which were great movies, and also "Popeye", which just wasn't.  I just recorded "Nashville" from TCM about a week ago, and I probably should consider "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" when the Oscar-nominated movies beginning with the letter "M" come around.  

I'm left scratching my head, though, wondering how anyone thought making this film would be a good idea.  I mean, who was the target audience here - women? Men? Gynecologists?  Men who have a lot of women in their lives but don't really understand any of them?  Fans of golf and duck hunting?    A little research probably would have revealed to a filmmaker that the majority of men, despite what you might think, are not really interested in the details of what goes on at the gynecologist's office - I mean, maybe it's medically if their partner is trying to conceive, but otherwise, there's just something off-putting about it on a personal level. 

And as with "What Women Want", this film manages to sell out an entire gender - every woman here is just a walking pile of personal problems, they're all either insecure, neurotic, hypochondriac, throwing themselves at the wrong man, unable to properly juggle their career and personal life, secretly a lesbian, or some improbable combination of these.  The women who are successful, sane, balanced and having healthy relationships are just nowhere to be found.  And all of these crazed neurotic women seem to enjoy talking over each other, all at the same time.  Yeah, that's the sound that makes the few men who stuck around for this film, despite the subject matter, tuning out.  

Dr. T's wife has a mental condition diagnosed as a Hestia complex, which apparently affects only upper-class women who receive TOO much love in their lives.  How can this possibly be a real thing?  This must have been created for the movie, right, just to make Dr. T more of a sympathetic character - oh, he loved his wife too much, poor guy.  But you can't just make up psychological conditions because they fill a narrative hole in your screenplay.  And let me see if I follow, him loving her too much made her revert to a childlike state?  That just doesn't track - I could maybe see it if some woman went through a trauma, and reverted to being a child because she couldn't deal with an adult tragedy, but I fail to see how too much love and attention turned her into a mental child.  

I think what's even worse is that Dr. T, as a character, seems like a total blank who doesn't have a strong opinion about anything.  OK, so we see him dealing a little bit with his wife being committed to a mental hospital, but other than that, he doesn't really ever react to anything.  His assistant makes a pass at him, and he fails to notice - then when he does, his first impulse is to leave the room?  Way to worm out of an awkward situation.  He finds out that his daughter, who's engaged to a man, is also having a relationship with a woman.  OK, so you'd think that would lead to some kind of conversation, but it doesn't, everything just proceeds with the wedding as if nothing's wrong.  Sure, put your head in the sand, because these things have a way of working themselves out.  Umm, no, they usually don't. 

The ending is a total cop-out, with Dr. T's convertible being sucked up into the fakest-looking tornado seen since "The Wizard of Oz", and with that cyclone depositing him completely unharmed in the Mexican desert (apparently) where his services are desperately needed to deliver a baby.  Give me a freakin' break.  Nothing got resolved, not his wife's condition, or his relationship with the golf pro, or how he was going to deal with any of the other crazy women in his life.  What a let-down.

Also starring Richard Gere (last seen in "The Hoax"), Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern (last seen in "Fat Man and Little Boy"), Shelley Long (last seen in "A Very Brady Sequel"), Kate Hudson (last heard in "Kung Fu Panda 3"), Tara Reid, Liv Tyler (last seen in "Reign Over Me"), Matt Malloy (last seen in "The Anniversary Party"), Robert Hays (last seen in "She's Having a Baby"), Andy Richter (last heard in "Penguins of Madagascar"), Janine Turner (last seen in "Cliffhanger"), Lee Grant (last seen in "Mulholland Dr.").

RATING: 2 out of 10 pimento cheese sandwiches

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Women Want

Year 9, Day 39 - 2/8/17 - Movie #2,539

BEFORE: I suppose I'm a couple days late with this one - the Super Bowl was a few days ago, and I think for a while I was planning to watch this on the day of the big game, because it's all about an advertising agency pitching products to women.  But then I added a few films, and that moved this movie off the most appropriate date. 

I used to watch commercials for a living, or at least that was part of my job at an animation rep company that was tangential to the advertising world - watching ads was considered market research, so we could track the competition's work and identify potential new clients.  And Super Bowl Sunday was sort of like, well, our Super Bowl Sunday, but for different reasons.  These days I just watch the ads once during the big game, then I can thankfully forget about them.  

It seemed this year that there was an abundance of those beautifully-shot vistas, of cars speeding down those beautiful highways, while a very Don-Draper-y voice explained the larger meaning of what it means to drive somewhere, as if we're idiots who only use our cars to get from here to there, without properly understand what it means to "drive on the road of life" or some similar B.S.  Give me a break.  

The one I recall most had that footage of a young girl competing in a soapbox derby race, which was supposed to symbolize the competition between men and women in the workplace, I think, because the voice-over kept asking "What do I tell my daughter when she asks me why she doesn't earn as much as a man?"  OK, fine, valid point, but do you have to man-splain the gender gap to me in such a condescending manner, as if you're assuming that I'd never understand it if you didn't use such simplistic symbolism?   Let's cut the audience a break and assume that they have brains that work.

Marisa Tomei carries over from "The Rewrite" and here's your TCM schedule for tomorrow, February 9:
6:15 AM "G" Men (1936)
7:45 AM Gaslight (1944)
9:45 AM The Gay Divorcee (1934)
11:45 AM The Gazebo (1960)
1:30 PM General Spanky (1936)
2:45 PM George Washington Slept Here (1942)
4:30 PM Giant (1956)
8:00 PM Gigi (1956)
10:15 PM Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
12:00 AM Gone With the Wind (1939)
4:00 AM The Good Earth (1937)

It's probably driving someone over at TCM crazy that they had to choose between putting "Giant", "Gigi" and "Gone With the Wind" in prime-time.  They got two of them into position, but then they have to run "GWTW" in the overnight slot.  Well, anyway, set your DVRs for "Gone With the Wind", if you haven't seen it.  I have, along with "Gaslight", "Giant", "Gigi", and I've got "The Gay Divorcee" with Fred Astaire coming up in about 3 weeks, so I'm counting that.  Another 5 out of 11 moves me up to 44 films seen out of 95.  Something tells me I'm not going to get back up to 50% again.  But hey, we've reached the "Good" films, and tomorrow there will also be some "Great" films. 

THE PLOT: After an accident, a chauvinistic executive gains the ability to hear what women are really thinking. 

AFTER: I'm not quite sure what the biggest character flaw here is - the fact that an advertising executive needed someone to remind him that women were not just put on the planet to make men happy and that they represent, in fact, 50% of the marketplace, or his hubris in thinking that he can understand women just by trying on some mascara and some control-top pantyhose.  Sure, that'll do it - and whatever thoughts come into your head after you wax your legs for the first time, those are just BOUND to be insightful.  I mean, come on, what idiot wouldn't be able to figure out that ripping your leg hairs out would be painful?  And then he has the NERVE to suggest that women are stupid, because they continue to do that - what an ass.  

(ASIDE: I speak from some experience, I did dress as a woman once, many Halloweens ago, I shaved my legs and everything.  The less said about the reasons for doing so, the better.  But I don't feel that dressing this way gave me any special insight on what it means to BE a woman, other than learning that it was hard to find attractive lady-like shoes in my size.)  

To be fair, he's SUPPOSED to be a clueless ass - and his assignment from his new (female) creative director boss is to take these women's products home (in a pink box, that's not TOO symbolic) and try them out.  (NITPICK POINT: But just what was he supposed to do with the home pregnancy test?)  Instead of gaining insight, he has an accident while wearing the make-up and panty-hose, and drops the blow-dryer into the tub he falls into, but instead of being electrocuted to death (the audience should be so lucky...) he gains the ability to read women's minds.  Only women - and female dogs, apparently (bitches, what a nice touch...) so NITPICK POINT #2 - what was that female poodle thinking?  Was she using words, or just barks?  Please explain further...

At first, this ability seems to be a curse - as he walks around the city, he's overwhelmed by all of these women's thoughts - and he's convinced that he's losing his mind.  He goes to see a psychiatrist who's a woman (OK, gotta do it, NITPICK POINT #3, while trying to get away from women, he goes to see a woman therapist.  Doesn't make sense...) and the doctor convinces him that this could be a blessing, he could become the FIRST man to really understand women.  Because, you know, there's just no way to talk to women, or ask them what's on their mind.  Don't be silly and suggest this, you just know it won't do any good...

Again, it's hard to say which gender gets undercut the most here - first of all, it's just silly to approach everything between men and women as some kind of competition.  Aren't we past all of this by now?  OK, I know that there's still a pay gap, and it does need to be addressed, but women have been working in the business world for several decades now, and I never hear anyone saying that they don't belong there.  I haven't even heard the phrase "the battle of the sexes" for years now, except for in news about that movie they're making about Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.  I think it's the assumption made here that since women aren't capable of speaking their minds, for one reason or another, that gaining the ability to read minds would be the simplest, possibly even the ONLY method of cracking that code.  

It's even more ridiculous to think that an entire advertising agency would, in the year 2000, only be STARTING the process of advertising to women when the ad world has been doing that since at least 1900, if not before.  OK, so there might be a few hold-outs like Nick Marshall who only shoot commercials aimed at men, with bikini-clad Swedish models, and fast cars and such, but I think even 17 years ago, such a man would be regarded as a dinosaur, a dying breed.  What agency would suddenly wake up in the year 2000 and say, "wait a minute, half of all consumers are women, we need to do something about that!  Quick, hire a lady boss!"  Preposterous.  Especially since there appeared to be no shortage of women working at that agency, just (apparently) ones that were incapable of rising up through the ranks?   

Any success that Nick Marshall obtains from reading women's minds could have, SHOULD have been easily obtained through the use of market research and focus groups, which are standard advertising industry practices, and they have been for decades.  What could he possibly obtain from his mental power that wouldn't come up in a focus group?  Absolutely nothing - which is why we never hear helpful details, those scenes where he's (essentially) mind-raping these women are presented without dialogue, with music playing over this montage of privacy invasion.  

But worse, oh, even worse than selling out an entire gender, it's the thoughts that our hero is able to read that provide an even GREATER example of chauvinism.   Far from leading him (and by extension, us) to a more complete understanding of the female thought process, the very stereotypical thoughts of the women around Nick Marshall suggest that all women can be divided into some very simple categories - like the young, possibly suicidal ignored office assistant, the desperately lonely and insecure coffee-house barista, and the two mature copywriters whose minds are apparently blank - and the hit parade of terrible portrayals of women just keeps on rolling.  

Of course, Nick uses his ability to read women's minds for only one purpose - to advance his standings at work.  OK, two if you count reading the minds of his sexual partners to determine what they want him to do - but this is self-serving, too.  He doesn't want to be a better lover so that SHE will feel better, it's all to feed that massive ego of his, to hear her think that he's the best she's ever had.  This guy is simply incapable of being selfless - even in pleasing a woman, it's for his own benefit.  Similarly, he only offers his daughter whatever she wants so that she'll think he's a better father.  Can't anyone explain to this guy that the world does not, in fact, revolve around him?  

The writer in last night's film "The Rewrite" suggested that a screenwriter's story represents his thoughts and fears at the age of an 11-year old.  After seeing this, I'm inclined to agree with that - it feels like it was written by an 11-year old boy that couldn't figure out that if you want to know what a woman is thinking, it might be a good idea to just ask her.  

Also starring Mel Gibson (last seen in "The Expendables 3"), Helen Hunt (last seen in "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion"), Alan Alda (last seen in "Betsy's Wedding"), Ashley Johnson (last seen in "Anywhere But Here"), Mark Feuerstein (last seen in "Practical Magic"), Lauren Holly (last seen in "Sabrina"), Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine (last seen in "The Border"), Sarah Paulson (last seen in "Serenity"), Judy Greer (last seen in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"), Ana Gasteyer (last seen in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2"), Bette Midler (last seen in "Parental Guidance"), Lisa Edelstein (last seen in "Keeping the Faith"), Loretta Devine, Eric Balfour (last seen in "Can't Hardly Wait"), with cameos from Logan Lerman (last seen in "Riding With Cars With Boys"), Cristine Rose (last seen in "Ishtar"), Adren Myrin, Richard Simmons, Martha Stewart (last seen in "Pixels"), and the singing voice of Frank Sinatra (he'll be showing up again next week, I just wanted to add to his count.

RATING: 3 out of 10 painted toenails