A sweet-hearted romantic comedy gets a mean-spirited remake
“What Men What” is the African-American/opposite sex remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt romantic comedy “What Women Want.” In that movie, Gibson could hear women’s thoughts; in this one, Taraji P. Henson can hear men’s thoughts.
To compare and contrast, “What Women Want” has its heart in the right place, and I felt that movie was underrated. “What Men What,” however, is a mean-spirited, annoying, and cliche-filled romp, that left my funny bone untouched.
Henson plays Ali Davis, an Atlanta sports agent, who, like the Mel Gibson character, thinks she’s up for a promotion as her boss’ (Brian Bosworth) partner, but gets rejected because she doesn’t connect well with men. So, to ease her anger, she sleeps with a younger bartender named Will (Aldis Hodge) very hard. Matter of fact, it looks like she’s attacking him.
How does she get telekinesis in this movie? Why, she sees a psychic (Erykah Badu) at a bachelorette party, and is given some weed tea. And afterwards, she goes to a night club with her friends, gets pushed by an inflatable penis, and bashed her head. That’s how she can read men’s thoughts.
She wants to prove her worth to her company by representing a young basketball player (Shane Paul McGhie), and so, she embraces her power by convincing his father/manager (Tracy Morgan) to let her do so.
She also uses her powers to know that her gay assistant (Josh Brener) is the apple of a hotheaded coworker’s (SNL’s Pete Davidson) eye. And she starts dating Will, who’s also a widowed father with a son (Auston Moore). That’s pretty much the only thing decent about the movie, while everything else has to attack my mind.
I sat in a theater with big laughs-very loud laughs to say the least. I was the black sheep of the crowd. “What Men Want” is a movie made by and for people who hate “What Women Want.” Matter of fact, they say that a guy had a hairdryer shoved up his behind. And get this: while the original was rated PG-13, this one is rated R. That means you have to find a used condom on Henson’s back, nonstop cursing, and chauvinist characters.
Henson is a fine talent, no less, but who in the world thought it would be funny for her to yell at people, sexually abuse Will on their first date, and hear guys getting grossed out by a fart joke at a poker table? Not me!
Morgan is a brilliant comic, but I feel like he’s ripping off one of his own characters-Tracy Jordan on “30 Rock.” And many, many others like Brener, Richard Roundtree, Jason Jones (TV’s “The Detour”), Max Greenfield, and Wendi McLendon-Covey are wasted. And even I felt bad for Hodge.
A better example of a romantic comedy getting an African-American twist was “About Last Night” from 2014. It was no better than the original Rob Lowe/Demi Moore movie, but at least, it had a nice touch. “What Men Want” is crass from beginning to end.