GENDER WAR: Taraji P Henson plays a woman who can hear what men are thinking.

What Men Want

  • Comedy: Cert R16, contains sexual references, drug references and offensive language; 1hr 57mins
  • Starring: Taraji P Henson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Max Greenfield, Brian Bosworth, Tracy Morgan, John West Jr, Aldis Hodge and Roshawn Franklin
  • Director: Adam Shankman

IT DOESN’T really take a whole 90-minute movie to figure out what men want.

It typically should only take a 10-minute mansplaining session or a review of men’s online history to get the hint.

But that’s okay because What Men Want is not really about how to better understand the needs of the opposite sex, it’s about how the film’s heroine, Ali (Taraji P Henson – Empire) begins to understand her own needs and how to balance them as part of a fulfilling life.

Aside from its inspiration, What Men Want has little in common with the 2000 Mel Gibson film, What Women Want. The updated version is rude, crude and unapologetic in its humour in contrast to the cute humour of the original. It is also a more mature look at modern dating and partnership attiudes.

As a sports agent, Ali is expected to have a male attitude in all of her interactions with clients and colleagues but is still looked down upon as a woman trying to break into a man’s world.

Overlooked once again for a partnership position, Ali is determined to prove her worth by signing one of the most wanted sports figures.

The film explores, though on a very esoteric level, the expectations that professonal women must meet to be considered an equal in the business world. While staying away from the #me too movement, the film has a modern feminist message that is surprisingly empowering.

Ali is not expected to step back from her convictions in the film. This speaks to an attitude that women do not have to choose between family and profession any more than men do.

8/10

mark.rieder@thebeacon.co.nz