What Men Want Movie Review
There is a key difference between What Men Want and its 20-year-old predecessor What Women Want: quality.
The Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt romantic comedy was, from what I remember, a funny, delightful film with a clever premise and witty delivery. At the time, I even compared it to When Harry Met Sally.
What Men Want, in which Taraji P. Henson plays an obnoxious sports agent who is granted the gift (curse?) of hearing what men think, is a crass, forgettable, and notably non-witty comedy that sinks to the lowest common denominator whenever it can.
The movie also stars Tracy Morgan, just to make things a little worse.
The underlying concept of What Men Want is a good one, even if less refined than the Mel Gibson version—that one played off the common trope that women are complex creatures that few men can truly understand, something that seemed to land with both genders, whereas the reverse here isn’t quite as necessary or appealing, as stereotypes dictate that men are surface-level animals anyway.
Still, a movie about a woman who can read the minds of men has plenty of comedic potential—too bad director Adam Shankman, who is responsible for such dreadful fare as The Wedding Planner, Bringing Down the House, and Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and his screenwriters (Tina Gordon, Peter Huyck, and Alex Gregory), make so little of it.
Perhaps a starting point would have been to write a more interesting lead character than what we’re given, something other than the stereotypical bossy woman role—something with more depth or relatability. Then again, better filmmakers would have been able to do more with the character as is, especially in the age of #metoo and gender work disparities that would have been perfect fodder (but are barely referenced, other than Henson’s character being overlooked for a major promotion).
Regardless, What Men Want would undeniably be better if the first 25 minutes were just eliminated altogether. It takes 30 minutes for Henson to “get her gift,” an excruciatingly long time considering just how awful those first 30 minutes are, how horribly unfunny the experience is. Once Henson is able to hear men’s thoughts, the movie’s pace and entertainment value picks up considerably, presenting at least a couple of notable scenes—a poker scene elicits some chuckles, and, well, I can’t remember the other one.
Even at its high points, though, What Men Want comes off as the desperate comedy it is, relying too heavily on its star to make up for cruddy material.
What Men Want has a golden premise, but the filmmakers should have read a few more minds before releasing this stinker on us.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.