What Women Want receives a gender swap remake in director Adam Shankman’s What Men Want from Paramount Pictures. Taraji P. Henson portrays Ali Davis a successful sports agent trying to avoid sexism in her male-dominated ad agency office. When Ali is passed up by her boss Nick (Brian Bosworth) for yet another promotion, she decides that a girls’night will help boost her morale.
While at the party Ali participates in a Tarot card reading with Sister (Erykah Badu) and then decides to keep the party going with her friends. After a freak accident in the night club, Ali ends up with the power to read the minds of men. With the help of her trusted assistant Brandon (Josh Brener), Ali attempts to convince number one NBA draft pick Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie) and his overzealous father Joe (Tracy Morgan) to shine with her agency. Along the way she also has to juggle a budding romance with a bartender and single dad Will (Aldis Hodge).
I haven’t seen the original film in about ten years; however, I do remember enjoying it when it was released. The charisma of Mel Gibson was the centerpiece of What Women Want and the same charismatic approach from Taraji P. Henson is what holds the remake together. From the moment Taraji appears on screen, she hooks you into her portrayal of Ali. Instead of going for physical gags or one-liners, Tina Gordon’s screenplay showcases Henson’s natural charm into Ali.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the film, was Ali’s different interaction with each of the men in her life. Two of my favorite scenes in the movie involve dialogue between Ali and her dad Skip (Richard Roundtree). While Ali is a strong, confident woman, she is still a daddy’s girl and not afraid to ask for advice. I was fond of the chemistry between Henson and Aldis Hodge as budding lovebirds.
Aldis Hodge is one of my favorite supporting actors, so it was great to see him in a lead role. Josh Brener is also quite good as Ali’s gay assistant Brandon. While the character is gay, the script never turns the character into a stereotype or comic relief. Brandon has a character arc, and it works well. The rest of the male supporting cast are all strong as well, and each delivered at least one line that made me laugh.
While What Men Want is an enjoyable film, there were a few things which hurt the final product. While I generally have no issues with long movies, comedies, in my opinion, shouldn’t run too long. Fifteen or so minutes could’ve been trimmed from What Men Wantto tighten up the film’s flow. I also wanted to see more of Erykah Badu as the character of Sister. Badu is a comedic natural and delivers some of the film’s best lines.
All in all, though, I do recommend What Men Want, especially for female audiences. With a winning performance from Taraji P. Henson as well as some genuine laugh out loud moments, What Men Want is a fun movie worthy of date matinee or a girls’ night out.
Final Grade B-