Despite its serious lack of depth, 2000’s “What Women Want” was a big box office hit with $ 375 million worldwide. This Nancy Meyers film revolved around an arrogant playboy played by Mel Gibson who uses women as a doormat. When he ends up in a full bathtub with a hair dryer and is electrocuted, he suddenly has a special gift: he can read the minds of women. The shock is great when he discovers that most women deeply dislike him and he decides to use his newfound gift to outdo his colleague Darcy (Helen Hunt) and steal the promotion in front of her. However, he never thought he would fall in love with her. A light-hearted, idle comedy, with a slightly stale concept, perhaps, which attracted the female audience in particular to the halls. Although it has been talked about for years to make a remake of this film, but told from a female perspective – Cameron Diaz was once in the picture for the lead role – it took until 2019 for that film to be released. Creative poverty has finally struck Hollywood …
Not Diaz but Taraji P. Henson stars in “What Men Want” directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”, 2007). Her Ali Davis is a tough aunt, with more “balls” than many a man. She swears like a boat worker, uses her elbows to move up in her career, gets aggressive when trying to pick up a man, and is quite self-centered in life. As a manager of successful athletes, she is doing very well, but the promotion she deserves is still passed her nose every time. According to her boss (Brian Bosworth), this is because she does not really understand what goes on in men (almost her entire clientele consists of female top athletes, but at the level of Serena Williams). And so, Ali sets her sights on bringing in Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie), a great basketball talent on the verge of being named first in the annual NBA draft. To let off some steam after the missed promotion, Ali’s loyal and humble assistant Brandon (Josh Brener) sends her to her friend Mari (Tamala Jones) ‘s bachelor party, where a hairdresser and drug dealer (wonderfully over the top) played as a medium-sized hairdresser. Erykah Badu) drinks her Haitian tea. If she then also gets hit on the head when going out, her life is turned upside down. From the moment she wakes up in the hospital, she appears to be able to hear / read the thoughts of men.
Obviously this produces the necessary comical outpourings, but most men appear to have rather superficial thoughts (usually about shapely ladies’ bottoms) and the flat humor does not work out well nine times out of ten. Only the contrast between what pumpjack Brandon says and what he thinks is actually funny. Ali decides to use her newly acquired superpower to go straight for her goal: bring in Jamal Barry. She has to deal with the boy’s father, a caricature played by Tracy Morgan who goes by the name Joe Dolla (!) And who indicates that she does not trust women who do not have a family. And so Ali pushes the handsome bartender and widower Will (Aldis Hodge), with whom she had a one-night stand but then didn’t treat it properly, and his six-year-old son as her family; mind you, without informing them of her plan. Of course the deception comes out and Ali has to go deep through the dust to straighten out her mistakes.
Women in “male roles”, it is one of the trends in Hollywood today. Although Ali from “What Men Want” has more preconceptions to fight against than her male counterpart from “What Women Want”; she tries to secure her place in a tough male world, does her utmost and is then simply told that she can never become a partner in the company just because of being a woman. There is a very interesting, feminist angle ready to be threaded into the story. However, Shankman and screenwriters Tina Gordon, Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck chose to work out an already unoriginal premise with an abundance of predictable and silly jokes. Taraji P. Henson is a talented actress who has earned her spurs long and widely; would she use this roll to let off some steam? Because you can’t call it subtle. Through her get-togethers with her father (Richard “Shaft” Roundtree!) We get snippets of the backstory, but not enough to turn Ali Davis into a flesh and blood character. That gets somewhat compensated by the fact that her character does undergo a certain development – she learns to rely more on her own strength, instead of constantly comparing herself to her male colleagues – but that message is rather forced on us in the last twenty minutes. pushed down the throat.
Remains about a silly comedy where you always think “could have done that a bit more subtly”. There is still something to enjoy for the sports enthusiasts; big names from the NBA (Karl-Anthony Towns, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, John Collins and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban), WNBA (Lisa Leslie) and NFL (Devonta Freeman) come along in cameos.