They probably don’t want this.
Synopsis: A woman is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession, but gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear men’s thoughts. (IMDB)
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, and Josh Brener
Writers: Tina Gordon, Peter Huyck, and Alex Gregory
Director: Adam Shankman
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 117mins
This gender-swapped version of 2000’s What Women Want begins and ends with the probing of the opposite gender. This film takes the idea of men’s thoughts and uses them as a means to a different end which this time around was to overcome the patriarchy. However, the novelty of it all would quickly wear off, resulting in a dull mess that will surely make you question why the filmmakers decided to reboot this in the first place.
Ali Davis (Henson) was an ambitious sports agent with a strong personality whose career progression has consistently been hampered by the patriarchy that has dominated the agent where she worked and her inability to coexist within it. This inability to coexist with males would also be present in her everyday life. Davis would eventually hit a wall when it came to men so thanks to an unlikely source, she would somehow contract the ability to hear men’s lame thoughts.
At first, Davis would be overwhelmed by her new ability but she would eventually learn to adapt before using it to her advantage in both her personal and professional lives. Over time, there were some growing pains as she would slowly gain the favor of her male coworkers while also falling in love with a man named Will (Hodge). Unfortunately, the film couldn’t keep up with gimmick of the men’s thoughts as it would fall to the wayside as these subplots converged. Both subplots were half-baked at best, however, their combination did not make them or the story as a whole better.
The film would then fall apart as Davis’ ambition led to her falling apart. Obvious lesson aside, the story’s attempt to reconcile itself only made it more dull as it tries to redeem Davis in an unearned way. The story would go on a tangent that was so far away from the main premise that it became harder to watch. The film, already clocking in at nearly 2 hours, could have easily trimmed this superfluous fat and have been a much more concise and compelling product.
Despite everything else, the best part of the film was Henson’s performance as Davis. The material may have been mediocre at best but she was still somewhat compelling to watch while bringing an over-the-top energy to the character which was arguably unnecessary and never quite worked. She also had decent chemistry with Hodge’s Will who was more of a plot device than an actual character. Brener as Davis’ assistant Brandon did steal some scenes thanks to some good line deliveries and comedic timing.
Overall, What Men Want was a derivative, dull, mediocre, overlong, and unfunny mess of a comedy that couldn’t even keep up with its gimmick of men’s thoughts. The premise was still somewhat entertaining, however, the film falters when it tries to be more than that. Ultimately, Taraji P. Henson deserves much better than this. Maybe men aren’t worth it after all?