What Men Want

 

            Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a sports agent with a big firm dominated by males.  She's adopted their hard-driving, ambitious attitude, but she still feels like she can't quite break into the boys' club.  Especially when they pass her up, again, for that partner promotion.  Because she didn't land the big client.  So she vows to beat them at their own game.

            Her inner rage takes her right to the boxing gym, where her Dad, Skip (Richard Roundtree) is the wise guru who lets her blow off steam, then tells her to keep believing in herself.  Ali has a wimpish-looking assistant, Brandon (Josh Brener), who caters to her every whim, but he, too, would really like to be a successful agent himself.  Together they pursue the next big client, a future NBA star, whose Dad, Joe (Tracy Morgan) insists on every negotiation going through him.

            Ali has some girlfriends, but no “significant other.”  The one constant man in her life is her Dad, and he's all about encouraging her to be self-reliant.  When an eligible bachelor, Will (Aldis Hodge) does show up, and seems interested in her, she hardly known how to act, especially when she finds out he has a young son, because she's never had a family of her own.  One night she and her girlfriends get together to do some serious partying, including meeting with a medium (played compellingly by Erykah Badu) who serves up some specially-spiked tea.  When Ali hits her head afterwards , somehow she wakes up the ability to hear what men are thinking.

            Yes, this plot device has been done before, by Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, in 2000 (“What Women Want”), but this version not only switches genders, it's also a bit raunchier.  It does have some heart, though, and really, the plot is about Ali learning to listen, and cooperate, and appreciate the people around her.  Oh, and she'll have to apologize to some people she hurt along the way.  Before she gets there, however, we have some bawdy moments, some awkward truth-telling at a wedding ceremony, and a whole lot of cultural icons making cameo appearances. (Shaq and Mark Cuban at the poker table? )

            The humor utilizes a lot of suggestive material, which will be offensive to some, and for others simply not appropriate material for comedy sketches.  But if you're not easily offended, and you'd like some R-rated humor around the edges with some heart in the middle, this one's got just the formula.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association