Courtesy of Paramount Players
The loose remake of Nancy Meyers 2000 rom-com “What Women Want” (starring then megastar Mel Gibson) is now called “What Men Want.” Taraji P Henson gets some laughs playing Ali Davis, a wisecracking sports agent working in a male dominated workforce who is constantly striving to get ahead. When she’s denied a major promotion, presumably because of her gender, Ali vows to land her firm the hottest client on the block: Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie) who is guaranteed to become a first round draft pick in the NBA. Ali unexpectedly gets the upper hand when a strange gypsy women gives her the ability to hear the thoughts of men surrounding her.
Directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”), “What Men Want” has admirable progressive aims in the era post #MeToo, but the bland and messy plotting mechanics steal away from Henson who is often hysterical in her delivery. It doesn’t help the ideals borrow from every romantic comedy in the book, and the thoughts she hears from her co-workers don’t have the snap or surprise of the ones from its predecessor. Tracy Morgan barks in the most obnoxious way playing the father of Barry, and it was at the point I knew “What Men Want” was past the point of no return. The film wants to replicate the earlier films moral arc, but ends up playing to the double standards it’s trying to combat.