In reversing the gender roles from Nancy Meyers’ 1999 film, What Men Want is able to comment on sexism and racism in the workplace.
Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) works as a sports agent for Summit Worldwide Management (SWM). Even though she put in the work, she loses out on a partnership to Eddie (Chris Witaske). She’s not having any of it and let’s her boss, Nick (Brian Bosworth) know it. Stuck at Mari’s (Tamala Jones) bachelorette party with born-again Olivia (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Ciarra (Phoebe Robinson), she confides in psychic Sister (Erykah Badu) about her wishes and drinks tea. Never in her wildest mind could she have foreseen what happened next.
It starts at the doctor’s office following a concussion but it’s not until she’s driven by her wannabe-agent assistant, Brandon Wallace (Josh Brener), that reality soon sets in. She can hear the inner thoughts of every man. It doesn’t matter if it’s her dad, Skip (Richard Roundtree), one-night-stand-turned-love interest Will (Aldis Hodge), or a random stranger on the street. She can hear everything, including the man who wishes he could shit everywhere like a dog.
Ali takes advantage of these new abilities at her job in the race to sign Jamal Barry. Jamal is the hometown kid expected to be the #1 overall NBA draft pick. She’ll push co-workers Kevin Myrtle (Max Greenfield) and Ethan (Jason Jones) aside if it means being able to sign Jamal. Unfortunately, these powers mean losing the ability to truly connect with those around her.
If there’s one thing I do like about this film it’s that the leading character–played by Taraji P. Henson–is also a sports agent. I’m a sports fan so I can most definitely tell you that there are women out there who love sports. This die-hard Kentucky Wildcats fan was thrilled to see Karl-Anthony Towns cameo as himself. The cameo is even funnier because of Ali being able to hear the thoughts of men around her. Back to Henson, the actress doesn’t get many opportunities to show her comedic side but she’s outright amazing to say the least.
Sticking on the sports subject for a moment, I can’t help but wonder as to whether Joe “Dolla” Barry (Tracy Morgan) is a fictional version of LaVar Ball. Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie) is a Georgia Tech kid looking to go pro and wants to play for the hometown Atlanta Hawks. His dad, on the other hand, has other things in mind for his future. If we want to get technical, the Phoenix Suns had the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Atlanta Hawks actually owned the third pick but traded the pick to Dallas for their pick and an unprotected 2019 first round pick. I guess it’s an alternate timeline where the Hawks won the lottery over the Suns.
Comedies should not run any longer than 90 minutes. A comedy that runs longer than 100 minutes is okay. Anything longer than this means jokes will feel like they were forced. This is a film that runs a few minutes shy of two hours and it shows. This is made worse by the fact that there are scenes as the credits are playing. It’s already bad enough that we’re looking at a remake here. Okay, a loose remake since the gender roles are largely reversed from Nancy Meyer’s earlier film. With that comes the opportunity to make the film feel socially relevant in the age of Time’s Up and #MeToo. What Men Want is an alright comedy but honestly, it’s way too long.
DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman
SCREENWRITERS: Tina Gordon Chism and Peter Huyck and Adam Gregory
CAST: Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, Josh Brener, Erykah Badu, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tamala Jones, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Jason Jones, Chris Witaske, Brian Bosworth, Kellan Lutz and Tracy Morgan