For my review of the original flick, click the following link: WHAT WOMEN WANT (2000)
A movie based on a woman hearing the thoughts of a man… I feel like this movie should be a lot more dark and disturbing than it looks like it is.
The story looks like… well, about that. A woman who works for a big company is overlooked for a promotion and gives it to a man instead. She takes a magical potion, hits her head, and then wakes up the next morning hearing the thoughts of men and starts exploiting the crap out of it.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Taraji P. Henson (RALPH/INTERNET , HIDDEN FIGURES , and the upcoming THE BEST OF ENEMIES ), Tracy Morgan (THE STAR ), and Josh Brener (THE FRONT RUNNER , BELKO , and MAX STEEL ).
In support, we have Wendi McLendon-Covey (GOOSEBUMPS 2 , MARK FELT , and HELLO DORIS ), Max Greenfield (OATH , GLASS CASTLE , ICE AGE 5 , and BIG SHORT ), Kellan Lutz (EXPENDABLES 3  and TWILIGHT ), Aldis Hodge (HIDDEN FIGURES and COMPTON ), and Shaquille O’Neal (UNCLE DREW  and LEGO MOVIE ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Adam Shankman, known for THE PACIFIER (2005) and BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE (2003). Co-writing the screenplay, making for a red flag total of three writers, we have Tina Gordon (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and duo Peter Huyuk and Alex Gregory (9 episodes of KING OF THE HILL [1997 – 2010]). Composing the score is Brian Tyler, known for ESCAPE ROOM (2019), RICH ASIANS (2018), F8/FURIOUS (2017), DISAPP ROOM (2016), AVENGERS: ULTRON (2015), THOR 2 (2013), and the upcoming FIVE FEET APART (2019). The cinematographer is Jim Denault, known for BAD MOMS (2016) and PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015). Finally, the editor is Emma E. Hickox, known for BAD MOMS.
Originally, I thought this movie would be, meh. Nothing good, nothing bad, just your run-of-the-mill “battle of the sexes” movie. But then I saw IMDb’s early score: 2.4/10 (as of 2/4/2019). Wow. That’s… impressively bad for something that Henson is in. Sure, she’s not always in Oscar winners (looking at you, PROUD MARY), but… damn, that’s astonishing. I’m sure it’ll rise up to a four, or something, but now I’m dreading seeing this movie. My guess, unrealistic portrayal of men, making them out to be pigs and thugs, and making women out to be saints. Sure, the original film kind of did that, but that had some incredible talent behind it and they were playing their roles at least a little straight. I guess we’ll see.
This is my honest opinion of: WHAT MEN WANT
Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a sports agent who is expecting to be promoted to partner in her company. However, because her boss says that she doesn’t relate to men, she’s passed up on the promotion and it’s given to someone else. Looking to have a good time and block out the day, she and her friends hang out one night and they hire a psychic who ends up giving her a special tea that makes Ali feel funny. She ends up dancing at a club, hits her heads after falling over, and wakes up hearing the thoughts of only men. Despite her initial reservations about having this power, she is convinced that she can use this to her advantage, sign an up and coming young basketball star named Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie), under the obsessive eye of his father/manager Joe “Dolla” (Tracy Morgan), to the company and prove her value.
Yup, this movie is bad. I don’t know if I think it’s 3.7/10 (as of 2/10/2019) bad, but definitely not good. It could have been much, much worse.
The primary issue with the film is that it’s not funny. So as a comedy, it fails. No joke landed with me. It has all the hallmarks of a modern comedy. Random humor, like “toast in my pocket.” What the fuck is toast doing in his pocket anyway? Who does that besides crazy people? That first sex scene with Ali and Will (Aldis Hodge) was more awkward than funny. I know bad lays exist, and I’m sure really bad ones exist too, but this is a little too over the top for my taste. And that they hold on this scene for so long, it only gets more annoying. Will’s son Ben (Auston Jon Moore) later admits that he knew that Ali’s panties wasn’t a mask… so… why did he say it was, and why did he put it on? Little pervert. Also, both Henson and Morgan are so damned annoying in this movie that I’d swear to God that this was a Tyler Perry movie in disguise. Perhaps I should give these filmmakers some credit, at least there aren’t a lot of dumb “young stripper/prostitute” jokes. So I should respect this movie a little bit more. Which I do. Still, it took Henson and made her not-talented. Sure, PROUD MARY wasn’t a good movie, but she wasn’t the reason why. She was bad-ass for what she was given and at least gave a serviceable performance. This one wasn’t. Granted, she’s only second fiddle to Morgan’s annoyance, but it’s still second.
The other issue is that this movie fails to really create a character in Ali for the audience to understand. In the original film, we understand Nick Marshall’s misogyny. He was raised around women who were treated like crap and had father figures who treated women like crap too. Granted, it’s lazily explained and not explained very well as we don’t actually see any women treated poorly. It’s just spoon-fed to us via voice-over exposition. But this movie doesn’t have any excuses. She was raised by her single father, who is very much a part of the picture, and raised around men. There’s literally no reason for why she can’t “connect” with them in the same way that Nick didn’t. All we get is some clunky exposition that she doesn’t connect with men, but we never actually see her be awkward around them, and being a bad lay doesn’t count. That’s a product of no communication from her partners. Not the same thing.
The closest thing to joke that comes close to working is the one with her neighbor, “Captain Fucktastic” (Kellan Lutz). There’s a scene where Ali hears his thoughts and he wants her to just physically go for it, to which she does. They go to his apartment, he goes upstairs, she’s getting ready to have sex in the bathroom, goes upstairs to meet with him, she freaks out, and then we cut to him elaborately hanging from a BDSM set-up, all fully dressed and everything. Had the humor been up to snuff to this point, this might have worked, as I legit didn’t see that coming. But… nope, didn’t even chuckle at that. I just admit that this was a joke that could have worked, had the humor not been dead in the entire movie.
I might also give a little credit that the resident gay protagonist, Brandon (Josh Brener), actually has a personality and a goal in mind, whereas gay characters like this in these types of movies are literally there to spout dumb one-liners and be this over the top comic relief with no real personality other than flamboyancy. Good job, movie, you didn’t screw up this character. Though why he’s considered a good friend to Ali when she treats him like absolute dog-shit is well beyond me. So, half-brownie point.
Overall, I can’t say this movie is good. In fact, it’s pretty bad. There aren’t any redeeming values to hold it up, but I’ve seen far worse offensive flicks. The comedy simply falls short, the actors are annoying, the story is cliché as all hell, it’s not worth it. As a recommendation, this is a pass. Maybe not a hard pass, but the original is better.
My honest rating for WHAT MEN WANT: 2/5
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