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Review: Mediocre rom-com is not 'What Men Want'

Taraji P. Henson stars in sloppy gender-flip of 'What Women Want'

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Taraji P. Henson in "What Men Want."

Men and women alike want Taraji P. Henson to star in a movie worthy of her talents, and "What Men Want" isn't it. 

The bawdy rom-com, a gender-flipped take on 2000's "What Women Want" (a film where Mel Gibson can hear women's inner thoughts; talk about a project that hasn't aged well), aims for tough-talking and empowering, but winds up unconvincing in both areas. 

Henson stars as Ali Davis, a high profile sports agent at a mostly male agency. She's passed over for a promotion after she's told she "doesn't connect well with men." She's told to stay in her lane, which is like telling Kanye West to settle down. It only fuels her fire. 

After meeting with a psychic-type named Sister (Erykah Badu), Ali is gifted with the ability to hear men's thoughts. How? Why? Who cares? It's a plot device and it's awkwardly wedged in and used only when the script deems it necessary. 

"What Men Want" is confused in its conception; it's part magical fantasy, part "Jerry Maguire," part wish fulfillment for the #TimesUp movement. And while Henson gives a brash, broad, commanding lead performance, the film around her doesn't hold up its end of the bargain. It leaves her hanging. 

Director Adam Shankman is a Hollywood veteran of glossy fare ("Rock of Ages," "The Wedding Planner") no deeper than a puddle. "What Men Want" is no exception. It boasts some stellar cameos from sports figures but can't juggle everything that's put in front of it. The good news is Mel Gibson doesn't show up: that's one more thing neither men nor women want.

'What Men Want'


Rated R: for language and sexual content throughout, and some drug material

Running time: 117 minutes