Happy Valentine’s Day! Well so I thought. . . the release of new romantic comedy What Men Want is a soft reboot, semi sequel (that has no links to the previous one) instead of offering up a feel good Me Too emporing film, it feels stuck in the 90’s that insists on making all the guys a bunch of dude bro’s or stereotypical gay guys that are constantly made the butt of the joke. Along with squealing, hysterical women that are utterly ridiculous, any chance of wanting to understand a woman is completely lost in this “In order to succeed I need to understand men” is so ridiculous, I nearly walked out.
Tara PJ Henderson (who frankly should know better!) stars as Ali, a sports agent who works in an office filled with men. Not just any men, total dude bro’s who are so over the top and ridiculous it stops the movie from actually getting any kind of message across. When Ali doesn’t get a job as partner, despite her belief that she is the best person for it, she spirals and after drinking some tea at a phsycic reading at her friends bachelorette parts (I’m not joking!) falls on her head in a club, wakes up and can hear men’s thoughts.
What follows is an on slaught of homophobic humour as she is surprised she can hear her gay assistant’s thoughts because “he is not a real man” along with “you are the ugliest person here, no-one is interested in you” is downright nasty and surprising coming from director Adam Shankman (Hairspray) As Ali tries to use the thoughts of men to help progress her career by sorting the good one’s from the bad and collecting information to use the people around her for her own gain, it all comes crashing down at the end and she realises that to get a promotion and be happy she needs to understand men. It feels the complete opposite of what the original film intended and frankly in a Me Too and TIme’s Up world, this film feels out of place and out of time.
Henderson is usually great, however in this film the laughts feel forced, there is a point where she is walking through some beads hung in a doorway and she goes out of her way to try and make it funny and it falls devastatingly flat. There is also a sex scene that a group of girls in my cinema laughed at and everyone else sitting there felt awkward. This film may have worked had it come out 1 or 2 years after the original. Even the soundtrack felt out of place with Bills Bills Bills from Destiny’s Child and Push It by Salt N Pepa as the standout tracks. It just didn’t work.
Fortunately Tracy Morgan is also in this film as an over protective father helping his son get into pro basketball. There are many great moments, but the monologue of how he prepare’s his son’s morning smoothie is the only part of the movie where comedy actually worked. Ali’s love interest is played by Academy Award Nominee Aldis Hodge who doesn’t get a great amount of material to work with but constantly looks good with no t shirt on.
If you were hoping for a funny and intelligent insight into the male and female dynamic, you are unfortunately not going to find it here. Even if it leant into an extreme gross out sense of humour it would have been better than whatever this was. It is surprising that the calibre of talent involved in this film didn’t know better, but alas as with most Valentine’s Day celebrations, it is much better spent with a horror movie to make it through.
What Men Want is showing in cinemas now.