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What Men Want - Film Review

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by BeardedReviews (subscribe)
I love the moment the lights dim, the curtain widens and the movie starts. Going to the cinema is one of life's great activities and should be enjoyed as much as possible.
Published February 26th 2019
What audiences want is unlikely to be this

What Men Want, starring Taraji P. Henson, is a remake of the 2000 film What Women Want, which starred Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. The film follows the story of sports agent Ali Davis (Henson) who is a woman fighting for promotion up the corporate ladder in a very male-dominated workplace. Her interactions with the men around her are very battle heavy, and she is overlooked time and time again to become a partner, despite having strong success in her field. After a drunken encounter with a psychic and some questionable tea, Davis wakes up with the ability to hear men's inner thoughts and she eventually seeks to use this superpower to better her career and love life.

This film, of course, is flipping the plot of the original film, which focused on Mel Gibson's Nick, a womanising chauvinistic narcissist, who suddenly finds himself missing out on an expected promotion when a woman (Helen Hunt) is given the job he thought he was about to get. Once Nick gets his superpower of hearing women's inner thoughts, he seeks to use this power to undermine his female nemesis and win the job he wanted.

What amazed me about this new film is that it absolutely fails on every level to use its premise for any real moments of humour. The film was very flat in most parts and aimed for very low hanging fruit in terms of comedy. It suffered from long passages of very dull storytelling and failed to have any real fun with the premise. Davis' character arc is very bland, as she really learns more about how to interact with men, and improves her behaviour improves towards two people, her love interest and her assistant, and other than that, she really just learns how to be more independent. The male characters are, for the most part, simply written as unintelligent and nasty individuals. Many scenes which are supposed to be funny are either uncomfortable misunderstandings or over the top farce.

Gibson's Nick has a much better character arc, as he not only learns valuable lessons about the women around him but also starts to show true compassion and care about other people, most notably when he saves the life of an unnoticed and overlooked employee. Davis' really only starts to care about people once they've stopped being around her and making her the centre of attention. Whilst it all works out for Nick in the end, he has earned his redemption through becoming a much better person, and not resulting in him 'defeating' anyone in the process.

Ali's love interest in the film, Will (Aldis Hodge) should be a major part of the film. However, his character is not present for long periods of time and whilst Hodge gives his character plenty of charm and likeability, his single-dad storyline feels a bit forced. In setting up the 'good men' the film tries hard but lacks subtly to the characters. Ali's girlfriends are forgotten about for major portions of the story as well, making her sudden interaction at a wedding with them feel a bit out of nowhere. The wedding scene in particular, whilst some people in the theatre found it amusing, was over the top and an uninspired comedic scene.

The rest of the characters are the usual mix of stereotypes, mostly there for cheap jokes and little realism in terms of acting like a human being. We also have Tracy Morgan playing that same character he seems to do in everything I see him in. His character simply gets in the way of anyone who tries to speak in any logical flow of sentences. His presence in the film is far too big for who his character is within the plot, and it leaves the film struggling to find room for other characters who should be more of the focus to make the plot work. Whilst I felt that Henson was very good in the lead role and worked hard with what she had in the script, she deserved a more nuanced story, with more than surface level plot points.

This film is a poor recreation of the original, failing to improve on any aspect of what the original did. Whilst the What Women Want is not a brilliant film, it's a well balanced light comedy that gives enough focus to its story and whilst it does get a bit sappy and cheesy (especially when throwing father/daughter clothes buying/makeover montages at us), it does manage to give all viewers plenty to enjoy about the film. And Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt were fantastic.

What Men Want might work as a late Friday night no brainer of a movie. Some will enjoy the humour, but I certainly don't recommend it for anyone who enjoyed the original.

1.5/5 Beards
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