What Men Want is the latest in the string of gender-swapped remakes and reboots that have been gracing the big screen as of late. This time, it’s the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want that is getting an extra dose of feminine energy. In the film, a female sports agent who is frustrated by the boys’ club in which she works gets the ability to read the minds of men and uses it to get ahead.
Being that this is a remake, the story obviously isn’t particularly original. That being said, there is still quite a bit of appeal in the concept. The idea of being able to read the opposite gender’s thoughts is very intriguing, and the length between the release of the original and the release of the new one means that younger audiences will think this is “new” and older audiences will be hit with nostalgia.
A big part of why this movie succeeds is that it has very well-written characters. Despite their flaws, they are likable, and the arcs they follow over the course of the film are sympathetic. Although it is obvious what she is going to learn from the movie, you still want Ali to achieve success. However, because you do know the ending, the film feels somewhat overlong as a result.
The humor in the movie is surprisingly great. This was truly pretty funny, and will almost certainly keep the target audience smiling — and laughing out loud — for its entire runtime. There are a few gags that are repeated too often and wear out their welcome, such as those involving the ambiguously named psychic, Sister.
The film also has a great message about learning to be less selfish and allowing yourself to lose control. The sex scenes are surprisingly effective, as they serve to develop the deeper meaning of the movie. There is also a great deal of heart and sincerity in the film, mostly arising from the positive moral it contains.
The actors all do a solid job in their roles. As of late, Taraji P. Henson has been focusing on more dramatic work, but it is nice to see her have fun in a comedy. She does a great job of delivering the comedic lines and her facial expressions help supplement the voiceovers as her character is reading the thoughts of men. She is complemented by a strong supporting cast including Josh Brener and Tracy Morgan.
On a technical level, the movie was pretty impressive too. The cinematography, while not overly flashy, was slightly more complex than you would expect of a studio comedy. The soundtrack also does a great job of supplementing the film. That being said, for a movie with a message that is supposed to empower women, there is a surprising amount of male gaziness, particularly during a scene set in a club.
Overall, What Men Want was a very enjoyable and surprisingly interesting film. It’s not anything spectacular, but it has quite a few laughs and more depth than some of the other comedies in recent memory.
What Men Want opens in theaters February 8.