What Men Want (2019): ‘…a better film’ – A Film Review



Back in 2000, the romantic comedy What Women Want (surprisingly a remake itself of the French film Ce que femme veut…) was a successful film about a man whose world changed by suddenly being able to read women’s thoughts. What Women Want wasn’t anything groundbreaking in terms of filmmaking but was charming enough to be successful. It’s plot being similar to many other (romantic) comedy films like Freaky Friday, Bruce Almighty, Groundhog Day and Click; all introduce flawed characters who discover an ability that helps them reform and this helps them to better understand someone they (grow to) love. What Men Want is the latest in gender bending films, taking the 2000 film and giving it an update to these standards. Potentially this could really explore some complex and very topical issues.



Unfortunately, what we get instead is a superficial and lazy film. The film is predictable and tiresome. However, the biggest problem with What Men Want comes with the characters, they lack any sense of believability. They all strike through as caricatures with few exceptions. This is especially true of Taraji P. Henson (Ali Davis), Erykah Badu (Sister), Tracy Morgan (Joe ‘Dolla’ Barry) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Olivia); with many others being just a part of the scene. The concept that Ali Davis can hear men’s thoughts doesn’t work for an overly chatty character, it means that they blurt out everything and too many people would notice and take note of this ability, not ignore it as is necessary for the storyline. They’re all evidently performing and it might be because they’re looking to gain a laugh, but it doesn’t work and it loses the heart of the story. Aldis Hodge (Will) fairs better with a more grounded character but it’s never enough (and he’s not big enough of a character) to fix the film.



Having said that, the film looks the part; slick, clean and with a couple of interesting shots. For this kind of film, it actually makes sense to let the actors perform and not to be too distracting to a point. There certainly isn’t much that’s new here and the film lacks enough good performances to make it work regardless. It’s a bad sign when characters/actors are ignored for the favourability of the shots, especially in a comedy film. A film must be very smart to use the editing and cinematography in a way that can add to the humour and the performances of the cast; and most films favour the subtle approach that What Men Want takes. Unfortunately, in a film so hindered by the cast, it doesn’t do the film many favours.



It isn’t exactly the fault of the cinematographer or editor, it completely lies with the scriptwriter, actors and director. They were relied upon to make the film work and other than some lazy characters, there isn’t much to value here. It does at least appear as if the actors are having fun performing, but we’re all too aware that they are performing. It really holds the film back. It’s a shame because some of the themes of the film will get lost in this. There was a chance to show something strong, the film does even make a point that helps with the concern that a film about men’s thoughts would just be boring. “See, I think that men and women just want the same thing… at the end of the day. They- they want to be with somebody they trust, be respected, be appreciated and- and just to feel safe.” Unfortunately, so much of the film can’t keep up with this.



Ali Davis is a self-centered ad executive who, after an accident, hears men’s thoughts.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Bruce Almighty (d. Tom Shadyac USA 2003)

Ce que femme veut… (d. Gérard Jumel France 1993)

Click (d. Frank Coraci USA 2006)

Freaky Friday (d. Mark Waters USA 2003)

Groundhog Day (d. Harold Ramis USA 1993)

What Men Want (d. Adam Shankman USA 2019)

What Women Want (d. Nancy Meyers USA 2000)


Further Reading



Official Site

Interview with Taraji P. Henson

Interview with Adam Shankman

Interview with Josh Brener

Behind the Scenes

More Behind the Scenes


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This was an analytical review of….


What Men Want (d. Adam Shankman USA 2019)

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