Review: What Men Want

What Men Want
7 10

PLOT: A business woman awakens one morning to find herself endowed with the ability to hear men's thoughts.

REVIEW: The Hollywood gender swap is a cinematic scenario which is equal parts frustrating and gratifying. Of course, it's always exciting to see a female in a leading role. However, the path to the spotlight typically feels akin to hand-me-down sweaters from a sibling who stretched out the material long ago -- it's a nice opportunity, but after a while, you can't help but wonder when you'll get the chance to try something new. Luckily, WHAT MEN WANT's Taraji P. Henson steers this pseudo remake into fresh territory by flexing her comedic chops and crushing every subtle -- and not so subtle -- moment of cultural commentary that's squeezed into the recognizable rom-com trope.

In the film, Henson's Ali Davis is a workaholic who happens to be one of the only women at her very male dominated sports agency, and as a result has been passed over for promotion for years and years. This time around, Ali was so sure she'd finally made partner that she rolls up to her place of business in a brand new Porsche with champagne on ice waiting for her in her office. Unfortunately, her victory lap is cut short when her boss names the man next to her as next in line to be rewarded with a raise.

In the need for a pick-me-up, Ali meets up with her squad, has a little to drink, has a little to smoke, and downs a little herbal tea from a self proclaimed psychic. After a massive hit to the head at the club, Ali awakens the next morning to find herself blessed with new psychic abilities -- she can now read men's minds. Although terrified at first, Ali decides to use her newfound powers to her advantage in order to help her sign the biggest NBA up-and-comer on the docket, thereby securing her place as the next head honcho in the company to be made partner and achieving her dreams once and for all.

Based on the 2000 Nancy Meyers' hit, WHAT WOMEN WANT, WHAT MEN WANT flips the standard tinseltown love story on its head by putting the woman in the driver's seat. Whereas Mel Gibson's character was a man who struggled to see women as human beings, Henson's Ali Davis is a woman who seeks to better understand men so she can better compete with them. She just happens to fall in love along the way. Gibson's Nick used his gift to derail a female coworker because he's threatened by her success, and Henson's Ali channels her secret weapon to smash the glass ceiling.

This 2019 film may just be riffing off of its predecessor, but thanks to perfect comedic timing by Henson and stellar writing by Tina Gordon, Peter Huyuck and Alex Gregory, this is one reimagining that surpasses its source material.

Known for her dramatic work in projects like HIDDEN FIGURES, EMPIRE, and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, it's nice to see Henson spread her wings and branch out a little as she taps into her comedic roots. A master of her craft, Henson reminds us there's nothing she can't do. Her character Ali uses her newfound psychic abilities to help her both professionally and romantically. This movie may not focus as much on carnal affairs as its Gibson counterpart, but rest assured that Henson does get hers in the bedroom.

Admittedly, there are some pretty silly moments -- it's a comedy, of course, but Ali's big romance scene with her neighbor borders on bizarre. It's also worth noting that the psychic "Sister" played by Erykah Badu teeters on the edge of a very stereotypical magical African American trope, although whether or not the character type is entirely appropriate is not up to this writer to decide.

Henson executes a careful dance of providing uproarious reactions to her male companions' thoughts while simultaneously highlighting the injustice career women experience daily while doing their jobs. WHAT MEN WANT may be a reimagining, but what it brings to the table is a much needed discussion about how even after all this time, women are still not treated equally in the workplace simply because they are women -- a much more important topic than WHAT WOMEN WANT's determination to soften the heart of a man who has trouble acting like an adult.

Source: JoBlo.com



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