Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a brilliant sports agent but she keeps getting boxed out by her male colleagues and she can never seem to get ahead. After meeting a physic at a friend’s bachelorette party, she gains the unexpected edge when she develops the ability to hear men’s thoughts.
As you may guess from the title, What Men Want is a gender-flipped version of What Women Want starring Mel Gibson. It is a neat concept and I’m somewhat surprised this film hasn’t been made sooner because it’s the age-old thing where men say they don’t understand women and women say they don’t understand men. That being said, while it can be an interesting and funny premise, it doesn’t mean the final film is going to be.
What Men Want is a bit of a mixed bag. It is funny at times but not nearly as funny as the film thinks it is. There’s some good comedic talent in this film but at times it feels like they are all trying to get in the funniest line, and it derails the plot for a while. Taraji P. Henson, though, gives it her all, is constantly funny and charismatic and she really is the glue that holds this film together.
Ali’s male co-workers are all (bar her timid assistant played by Josh Brener) overly exaggerated stereotypes of the typical jock business man. While naturally comedy can be derived from over exaggerations, in this case, there wasn’t enough comedy to be had to make these caricatures worthwhile.
There are moments that feel true to life in how women can be treated in the workplace, and how Ali feels if she was a man acting the way she did, she’d be part of the club, not shut out of it. That is questioned over the course of the film though as Ali is shown to be not such a nice person at times as she’s so focussed on getting ahead that she leaves her friends (both male and female) behind.
What Men Want isn’t a particularly memorable film but it’s an easy way to spend a couple of hours – yes, a couple of hours! It really could’ve been shorter, at one point I thought it was about to wrap things up but then it continued for another half an hour. Still, Taraji P. Henson is wonderful and there are a few sweet moments in amongst the cringey ones.
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan, Josh Brener