Directed by: Adam Shankman
Premise: A gender flipped remake of Nancy Meyers’ film What Women Want. A female sports agent (Taraji P. Henson) who is frustrated with the boy’s club culture at work acquires the power to hear men’s inner thoughts.
What Works: The best aspect of What Men Want, and really the only part of the movie that’s executed with any competence, is the romance between Taraji P. Henson’s character and a single father played by Aldis Hodge. Their story is nothing special but Henson and Hodge have an agreeable romantic chemistry. The easy rapport between the two photogenic actors is the most likeable part of What Men Want and when the movie slows down enough to allow Henson and Hodge the space to react to one another the film becomes pleasant.
What Doesn’t: What Men Want has a lot going on. This film juggles multiple subplots and some severe shifts in tone. It’s too much. The movie is too long and it doesn’t do anything very well. What Men Want isn’t very funny. There are a handful of easy laughs but nothing in it is inventive and the movie frequently opts for easy gags and cliché romantic comedy tropes. What Men Want has three subplots: the workplace story, the romance, and a sisterhood narrative between Taraji P. Henson’s character and her friends. In each case, What Men Want plays like it was assembled from a generic set of romantic comedy parts and the telepathy gimmick is almost incidental to the story; the central premise could be removed without changing a whole lot of the movie. While attempting to distinguish herself at work, Henson’s character fights the boy’s club but her ability to hear her coworker’s thoughts rarely has any payoff. The filmmakers squander opportunities to address racism or misogyny and whatever the film has to say about those matters is trite and obvious. The romantic subplot suffers similarly. What Men Want works its way throughout a boy-meets-girl boilerplate and here the failure to capitalize on the movie’s premise becomes most apparent. What the filmmakers reveal about men and what they want is insipid. This already overstuffed film shoehorns in a subplot about the sports agent’s female friends. These scenes are tonally and thematically inconsistent and all they do is make an overlong movie even longer.
Bottom Line: What Men Want is a slapdash romantic comedy. The gender flip is not enough to justify the remake. This film has no ideas of its own and What Men Want is neither funny nor heartwarming.
Episode: #737 (February 17, 2019)