The Reel Review
Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Hidden Figures) stars in this comedy about an Atlanta sports agent frustrated at being shut out by her obnoxious male colleagues at work. When she drinks a psychic’s crazy concoction and bumps her head, she develops the ability to hear men’s thoughts and get the edge over them in her efforts to sign the NBA’s next up and coming superstar.
Despite a cute and promising trailer, director Adam Shankman (Hairspray, A Walk To Remember) steers this formulaic gender-flipping spin on the charming Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt 2000 comedy, What Women Want, into the land of crass, frenetic, lowbrow comedy, where raunchy, tasteless jokes reign. With the exception of Erykah Badu as the wacky, scene-stealing, drug-addled psychic and Josh Brener (HBO’s Silicon Valley) as Henson’s wise-cracking gay assistant, the film violates the cardinal sin of comedy – it just isn’t that funny.
The bloated, disjointed screenplay is about 30 minutes too long and would have been vastly improved had the more out-of-place comedy scenes (pretty much anything inside a church or a bedroom) been left on the cutting room floor. What DOES work, however, is Henson as the lead, who deftly proves she can carry a comedy, and when the story slows down long enough to breathe, allows her to show some genuinely heartfelt moments and a really charming, albeit predictable finale. Getting there, however, is painful – something NO ONE wants.
• Director Adam Shankman, in his first R-rated film, encouraged the cast to ad-lib during the filming. Some of those ad-libs not used in the film are featured during the end credits.
• The original Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt 2000 rom-com, What Women Want, was a box office hit, grossing $374 million worldwide.
• What Men Want is not the first film role for four-time Grammy winner and Dallas resident Erykah Badu. Badu’s other notable film credits include 1999’s Cider House Rules and 2016’s The Land.