Taraji P. Henson Learns What We Already Know
Is there a question women care less to find the answer to than “What Men Want”? It’s not like they’re shy about telling us. Walk down the street and you’ll hear exactly what men want. In graphic detail. For that reason, I was less than excited to see this gender-switched revamp of the 2000 Mel Gibson movie What Women Want, but this time around it actually has a lot of humor and heart.
WHAT MEN WANT ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Tina Gordon, Peter Huyck, Alan Gregory
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan, Erykah Badu, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Phoebe Robinson
Running time: 117 min.
Taraji P. Henson, who can really do no wrong, stars as Ali Davis, an Elite Sports Agent at a giant Atlanta agency where Elite Sports Agents in suits loiter in the lobby all day. Like every Elite Sports Agent, she angrily negotiates deals on a treadmill, drives a Porsche and has a super supportive gay assistant who she enlists to get her coffee and compliment her booty. After she’s passed over for a promotion to partner and her boss Brian Bosworth (who’s an actor now?), tells her she “doesn’t understand men,” a psychic (hilariously played by Erykah Badu) reads her tarot cards. Then she hits her head and can suddenly hear men’s thoughts. No surprise, most of these thoughts involve genitals. They’re really not a highlight of the movie. As Ali says, men just want to “get laid and get paid.”
Ali soon realizes that she can use her new gift to gain insight into winning over basketball phenom Jamal Barry and his Lavar Ball-inspired dad, played by Tracy Morgan. Unfortunately, her Elite Sports Agent ambition makes a mess out of her relationships with a sweet new boyfriend and his son, as well as with her friends, scene stealers Wendi McLendon-Covey and Phoebe Robinson. “My self-worth isn’t going to come from a man’s approval,” Ali finally understands in the last 15 minutes, then she dunks hard on the other Elite Sports Agents. Help me help you, indeed.
While the “understanding of the genders” message of this movie is somewhat flawed, mostly because Ali’s dad, boyfriend and assistant are all decent, good guys and therefore she shouldn’t need to read men’s minds to know how to treat them, it’s still entertaining. Erykah Badu alone is worth the price of admission, and Taraji is bawdy, tough and funny. The supporting cast includes Richard Roundtree, Pete Davidson, Max Greenfield, and Mark Cuban, who once snubbed my kids at a basketball game. What men want is still something I really don’t care to know, but at least for two hours, it was kind of fun.