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Like Mick Jagger, Gibson is the kind of performer who needs to go into overdrive to find a groove. As age renders him less supple, it becomes harder for him to separate energy from tension. Gibson's facial muscles are so tight that they seem to have driven his eyes into the back of his skull. This is the kind of acting problem that a perceptive director can spot and solve, but the heavy-handed Meyers is hardly the person to do it. What Women Want is so busy and noisy that Gibson has to work even harder than usual to make himself noticed above the din.

Papa was a rodeo: Damon in All the Pretty Horses.
photo: Courtesy of Miramax
Papa was a rodeo: Damon in All the Pretty Horses.

Details

All the Pretty Horses
Directed by Billy Bob Thornton
Written by Ted Tally, from the novel by Cormac McCarthy
A Miramax release
Opens December 25

What Women Want
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Written by Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa
A Paramount release

Gibson has never lacked chemistry with his leading ladies, from Sigourney Weaver in The Year of Living Dangerously to Julia Roberts in Conspiracy Theory, but faced with the awkward Hunt—Hollywood's bland antidote to the Lolita syndrome—he doesn't even try. What women do not want is to see Mel Gibson embarrassed and at a loss. I wish I could be sure it won't happen again.

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