Here we go again with yet another concussion-begets-enlightenment movie, in a role reversal of 2000’s What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson. That go-round was evidently before women realized they didn’t want…him.
This time we have Taraji P. Henson in the lead role as sports agent Ali Davis, competing in a male dominated occupation as the sole female combatant in a clearly cutthroat business. I must say, I have known only one sports agent and he was among the worst people I’ve ever met. But Ali develops the ability to read men’s thoughts as a result of her head bump, a useful advantage and vivid comic illustration that men are all idiots.
That brings up an interesting trend that I’m hopefully not just imagining. As women secure an increasing number of lead roles, their male co-stars seem to be turning into MeToo fantasies – docile, moral, soft-spoken and male model good looking. They are great dads and easily offended, unless they’re still old-fashioned jerks. The transition is clearly not complete. I won’t give examples. Just be on the lookout for this and let me know if I’m wrong.
Henson had a long run on the eventually tiresome and convoluted Person of Interest, a TV series that started in 2011 as strong as Mr. Reese (Jim Caviezel) but became hopelessly entangled and collapsed upon itself before cancelation in 2016. She moved on to Empire as Cookie Ryan, another strong dramatic role that spanned several seasons, giving her name and face recognition.
In What Men Want, Henson has proved herself a competent comedienne, summoning up enough F-bombs to get her a seat at any male-dominated table. Most notably, she crashes a secret men’s poker night and crushes the likes of Mark Cuban, Shaquille O’Neal and others, eventually allowing Tracy Morgan to win a big hand in a ploy to win his business.
Casting for this film was straight out of The Love Boat, including Tracy Morgan, Pete Davidson, Max Greenfield, Richard Roundtree and the poker cameos mentioned above. It allowed for faster capsizing than suffered by the SS Poseidon using similar protocols. Familiar faces did not shore up the weak and lengthy script, it just distracted from the otherwise pointless story line. Tracy Morgan is loud but unfunny. Pete Davidson’s character was unnecessary. Max Greenfield is one dimensional in his New Girl persona and really shouldn’t venture far from Zooey Deschanel.
Without revealing the setup for the funniest phrase in the movie, I laughed out loud at the line, “Welcome to Wakanda!” It was cute and well played.
Here I have to admit that I briefly fell asleep – twice – while watching What Men Want. Just short of two hours, it felt like three. I guess what this man really wanted was a nap, and this viewing was the perfect sedative.
What Men Want runs 1 hour, 57 minutes and is rated R.
Should I see this movie?