Remakes and reimaginings are a cornerstone of Hollywood. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; improving upon an idea so it might meet the potential it failed to live up to during its first execution is laudable. One kind of remake that’s becoming more commonplace is taking an older film and gender-flipping its protagonists, something done in film’s like last year’s Overboard. This year’s What Men Want, an inverse of 2000’s middling What Women Want, is the latest remake in this style, but how does it hold up?


There’s a particular type of dissatisfaction that comes from watching a comedy that isn’t funny, a category What Men Want regrettably falls into. Even before the film begins the Blu-ray menu greets you with an image of Taraji P. Henson’s character Ali holding two golden tennis balls, a visual gag with the subtlety one might expect of an Adam Sandler production. While the film’s script thankfully surpasses that low bar (I smiled a few times throughout the movie), What Men Want lacks wit. This is not through the fault of the actors and actresses, most of whom gave serviceable (if uninspired) performances. It certainly isn’t the fault of Henson, who managed to give a delightful performance in spite of the material she was given.

In terms of its premise and story, What Men Want is similarly mundane. Ali is a sports agent, one who’s overshadowed by her male colleagues and is hoping to score a promotion in spite of that. She doesn’t get it, causing internal doubt about her place in her profession. After a girls’ night out goes awry, she wakes up with the ability to read mens’ minds. Initially terrified of her power, she eventually decides to use her gift to further both her love life and career, the latter by recruiting famous baseball player Joe Barry (Tracy Morgan).

What Men Want is swiftly paced and at its strongest when it’s focusing on Ali’s career; the story of a woman overcoming a workplace biased against her could certainly make for compelling cinema, especially in today’s world (at one point Ali’s boss even directly references the #MeToo movement). But it’s all undervalued by the script, the predictable nature of the plot and a saccharine ending (somewhat ironically, given how a deleted narration states Ali never believed in fairy tale endings).

On the plus side, What Men Want does come with a plethora of bonus material. Over half an hour of deleted scenes are included with prefaces by director Adam Shankman. Other bonuses include making-of features and a gag reel, with the extras totaling over an hour’s worth of content.

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