Taraji P. Henson discovers What Men Want
The 2000 romantic comedy film What Women Want gets a gender swap remake from Paramount Players and director Adam Shankman in What Men Want. 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 girl's night will boost her spirits.
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 men's minds. 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 sign with her agency. Along the way, she also has to juggle a budding romance with bartender 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. Mel Gibson's charisma was the centerpiece of What Women Want. The same charismatic approach from Taraji P. Henson is what holds the remake together. From the moment Taraji appears on the 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 interactions 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 love birds.
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 his 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, a few things hurt the final product. While I generally have no issues with long movies, comedies, in my opinion, shouldn't run too long. left from What Men Want to 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 and genuine laugh out loud moments, What Men Want is a fun movie worthy of a date matinee or a girl's night out.
Final Grade B-