Following on films like Ghostbusters and Overboard, the latest gender-flipped comedy remake is What Men Want. Instead of Mel Gibson getting insight into the female mind, we get Taraji P. Henson learning what men are really thinking. However, the question of what the critics are thinking is largely that the film is fairly predictable. While many reviews seem to fault the film heavily for this, others feel that Henson and her supporting cast are able to elevate the material to something that's at least entertaining. Our own Jessica Rawden gave What Men Want three stars out of five and while she agrees it follows the expected path of its predecessor, that doesn't mean it's not fun.
The plot of this movie largely hits the same beats as the original franchise movie, so it’s nothing to write home about, but the subplots culminate in sometimes zany hilarity and each of the side characters stand out.
The review from The Wrap similarly finds some praise in What Men Want, largely thanks to Taraji P. Henson's great performance, and while it admits that that the premise does largely follow the same beats as the Mel Gibson-led comedy from 2000, it sets itself above the original by dealing with real issues that women deal with on a regular basis.
So ultimately, What Men Want is like the original film, except its themes more directly address real-life bias in the workplace by giving its female protagonist the permission to be cutthroat, self-obsessed, sexual, and completely unapologetic — and we still want to root for her.
However, not everybody feels that the cast of What Men Want is able to satisfactorily make a predictable story entertaining. Indiewire feels that the new movie actually falters when compared to the previous version of the film, because this movie isn't simply predictable because it's a remake, but because it falls victim to standard genre cliches.
What Men Want, by contrast, sticks to a literal-minded trajectory. Ali’s story involves little more than the usual rom-com complications of relationship woes, friendship betrayals, and various efforts to clean up the messes.
Meanwhile, while The Wrap largely appreciated the issues that What Men Want tried to bring to the forefront, Slashfilm's Hoai-Tran Bui is critical of those elements, feeling that they're little more than window dressing.
What Men Want manages to both feed into the gender divide while making a weak gesture toward gender equality. The film pays a lot of lip service to topical issues — with characters talking about the “current political climate,” “the boys club” mentality, and several mentions of the Me Too movement — but that’s all that it is, lip service.
In the final analysis, most critics seem to fall somewhere along the middle of the road, giving What Mean Want barely positive or slightly negative reviews. This isn't likely to become anybody's favorite movie, but it's not going to be the most hated either. In a few months most of us will likely forget this movie was even here, whether or not you actually go see it,