REVIEW: ‘What Men Want’ is a forgettable, generic feature

The question of what women want was answered with a movie starring Mel Gibson, so naturally there’s an alternate version titled “What Men Want,”… 18 years later.

This time around, the movie follows Ali Davis (Taraji Henson), a businesswoman working at a sports talent management agency, looking for her next promotion. With the next NBA draft right around the corner, Ali is hoping to sign the next big basketball star and earn the promotion she thinks she deserves. However it doesn’t go that way and the promotion ends up going to one of her office rivals.

Not long after, Ali goes to a bachelorette party, still angry about the situation at work, especially in regard to the misogynistic nature of the business. At the party, though, during a meeting with a psychic, Ali somehow picks up the power to hear what men are thinking. While she’s hesitant at first, Ali eventually decides to use the ability to her advantage.

Despite its premise featuring the paranormal, much of “What Men Want” feels all too normal. The movie gets into painfully generic territory and the story goes from one typical beat to the next. There’s the classic lie that’s told that leads to a falling out, there’s the misunderstanding that has to get resolved, and any audience can see what’s going to happen coming from a mile away.

There’s nothing interesting or new that the film has to say here, despite having a concept with quite a bit of potential. Plus, enough time has passed since the first one that one would think the filmmakers would have more clever ideas to offer.

Like the story, the comedy is also dated and predictable. There are enough fart jokes and other bodily humor you’d think you’re watching an Adam Sandler movie. The movie also relies on stereotypical humor, too, a bit too much. For example one of the main characters is gay and the main joke is that he acts effeminate, I guess. Basically, a majority of the comedy featured is low hanging fruit.

That’s not to say I didn’t laugh once, it’s not the worst comedy I’ve seen. But there are so many more misses with the humor attempts here than there are hits. A movie just going through the motions like this needs to be funny otherwise the generic story gets exposed that much more, and that’s what happened here.

The film does tremendously benefit from Henson, though. She’s a great performer with some skillful comedic timing and by far, she’s the best part of the whole picture.

The supporting cast is fine, too, although one wishes they were given better material to work with. Tracy Morgan’s character is just too off-the-wall and would have been better had he been toned down a bit. Aldis Hodge, meanwhile, is good as the romantic interest character.

This is one of those movies that seems like a better product is hiding somewhere. The idea isn’t bad but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. One part that comes to mind on that point is a wedding that turns into complete chaos, where it felt like the creative team was running out of ideas. A couple of comedic payoffs and Henson’s performance help just enough, though, to get this one a 2.0 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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