What Men Want is what it says on the packet. If you’ve seen the trailer you can basically predict the majority of the movie. The word “subtle” cannot be applied to this movie in any way, shape, or form. It was described to me as very American by fellow moviegoers; loud, in your face, and over the top.
Directed by Adam Shank (Rock of Ages, Bedtime Stories), it’s not surprising where this quality of movie comes from. It’s a basic romcom but without the main focus being on the romance. There’s some funny jokes, some outrageous drama, and there’s a whole lot of cringe. Just letting you know, I’m one of those people that suffers severely from second-hand embarrassment and my god this movie hit hard. I probably spent the same amount of time laughing at some questionable jokes as I did cringing into my hands and questioning my life choices.
The film opens up with strong, confident, go-getter Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) working her butt off on a treadmill while talking on the phone about her female star athlete who will not accept anything but being the cover shot of a magazine. This first scene shows pretty much the depth of character Ali has for the majority of the film, till the climax where she inevitably learns from her mistakes and makes up for all the shitty things you watched her do for the past hour and a half. From there, the film fairly predictably flows through showing Ali’s struggles making it big in her man-centric field, gaining the ability to read men’s minds, using those powers to better her position along with all the drama and issues she causes for herself before eventually realising the mistakes she made and fixing them.
The main surprises have nothing to do with plot development and are just outrageous for the sake of shock-factor. Over the top raunchy (but not revealing) sex scenes that are just uncomfortable to sit through and a used condom stuck to a jacket at an important work event are among the top that comes to mind but there are more. The cringe was very real with this film.
Many of the characters came across as fairly two dimensional, most of their actions and reactions were unbelievable and a lot of the time just outright ridiculous. The situations that occurred in What Men Want would not exist outside of this film’s universe (and that’s not even including the psychic mind-reading powers aspect), real people just don’t do what these characters did. Even the main character is hard to relate to, her initial actions and attitude just don’t make much sense if you start thinking about it too deeply.
A lot of the important aspects really hit you right in the face, just to make sure you know exactly what they’re trying to portray. Like how Ali is similar to a stereotypical selfish man who takes what they want and gives nothing back. This was made extremely obvious in one of the very uncomfortable sex scenes where she took what she wanted then went to sleep without any thought for Will’s (Aldis Hodge) own “happy ending”.
All that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy What Men Want, it definitely had its moments where it made me laugh out loud. There were also a few aspects I enjoyed, like Brandon Wallace (Josh Brener) who was Ali’s under-appreciated assistant, he made the majority of the scenes and jokes he was a part of enjoyable to me. The soundtrack was also a good time, there were a good variety of music styles (I did spend a fair amount of the film bopping my head). I’d class it as being a good “hangover movie”, not much attention needs to be paid to it to know the general storyline. It’s fairly predictable and cliché in its overall storyline and themes but it’s not unwatchable.