Lori Reese
December 19, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

It looks like women aren’t the only ones who want Mel Gibson. Guys, gals, and even a few teens helped ”What Women Want” top the box office this weekend with a stellar $34.4 million estimated take. The romantic comedy costarring Helen Hunt knocked the season’s mean green leviathan ”The Grinch” off its four week roost at No. 1 and set a new December opening record, surpassing ”Scream 2”’s $32.9 million (1997). Likewise, it was Gibson’s best opening yet, outselling the debut of his kidnap thriller ”Ransom”($34.2 million in November 1996).

Meanwhile, the new teen amnesia pic ”Dude, Where’s My Car?” (No. 2) zoomed off with $14 million, beating ”The Grinch” (No. 3; $13 million). Still, Jim Carrey’s Dr. Seuss adaptation has reaped an impressive $212.9 million in holiday bounty in just 31 days. Disney’s latest animated offering ”The Emperor’s New Groove,” (No. 4) was the lowest scoring newcomer this week, with a $10 million take, while the vertiginous adventure flick ”Vertical Limit” rounded out the top five ($9 million).

CRITICAL MASS EW.com readers are pretty keen on Gibson too. Overall, voters graded the seasoned hunk’s comic foray a solid B — and 48 percent say they saw the film for its star. The date flick made an equal impression on everyone’s better half, as both men and women graded the film a B. However, 40 percent indicated that they are very unlikely to see Gibson’s mind reading efforts again, but 52 percent plan to recommend the experience to friends.

”The Emperor’s New Groove,” meanwhile, fared almost as well. The animated musical earned a B- from readers. A full 55 percent said the Disney comedy was better than expected, while the same number said they would recommend the film to friends. On the other hand, ”Dude, Where’s My Car?” left EW.com readers wondering where their hard earned nine bucks disappeared. Overall, voters graded the film C+, with the highest score of B+ coming from those with high school education. Certainly it’s not a film for the highbrow crowd: Distributor Twentieth Century Fox opted not to screen the stoner flick for critics. Perhaps execs feared the scribes would walk out of theaters thinking ”Dude, Where’s the Plot?”

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