What Men Want.
In the era of reboots and remakes, every once in a while they can nail it. Something that can be remade and still be unique and worthwhile. I was really hoping that What Men Want can do just that.
In this remake of the 2000 comedy What Women Want, we get Taraji P. Henson as a sports agent who, through a series of unfortunate events, gets the ability to hear men’s thoughts. She is passed up for promotions at work so she’s determined to sign the newest basketball prodigy Jamal (Shane Paul McGhie), though his eccentric father (Tracy Morgan) stands in the way. With her new powers, maybe she can win over the father and sign the son, proving that she’s an asset to the company.
We also have her assistant Brandon (Josh Brener) who aspires to be an agent as well and a bartender that she has a one-night stand with (Aldis Hodge). Her coworkers include Max Greenfield, Pete Davidson, and Brian Bosworth, while her circle of friends include Phoebe Robinson, Tamala Jones, and Wendi McLendon-Covey.
Taraji carries this film, though she’s the “straight person” throughout, meaning that the ensemble cast around her provides the comedy. It’s Josh Brener (The Internship) who really steals the show throughout most of this, as her assistant and one of the few people who knows her abilities. The comedy hits from all angles though, relying on heavyweights like Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911) and Tracy Morgan, while also allowing smaller name supporting characters to get in some jokes as well.
As a comedy, this worked wholeheartedly and is a definite recommendation. It had a few inspiring and sentimental moments but it’s really the comedy that you’re going to see this movie for.
I appreciate that this movie not only gender-swapped the lead but also made her a black woman, as that allowed this movie to have some depth that I wasn’t expecting. It attempts to tackle some deeper issues, though I question if it did so effectively. One character especially has some real nasty and hurtful moments, but suffers no consequences by the end of the movie.
What doesn’t work?
In a comedy, not every joke lands for every person, and this is very much that way. There were many “low-hanging fruit” jokes that were included that I found to be a bit crass and unnecessary, though the audience laughed often, so those jokes were for someone.
I also wasn’t much interested in a romantic side story that came up, revolving around Will (Aldis Hodge) and his son. This should have been an important relationship but it felt hollow, partially due to Hodge’s performance. Not terrible, just forgettable.
As a comedy, this movie packs quite a punch. Even though not every joke landed for me, they came in such speed that I could miss a few and still feel like I was laughing nonstop. Taraji P. Henson carried this film successfully, though the ensemble around her had plenty of moments to shine, resulting in nonstop laughter and some really clever moments.