What Men Want

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
What Men Want Movie Poster Image
Henson shines in mature, formulaic comedy.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages about empathizing with others' problems and really listening to them instead of making assumptions. Applauds choosing intangible rewards -- like respect from longtime friends -- over money and fame. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents and children have warm, supportive relationships. Ali is a tough but thoughtful woman of color in her late 40s, a type not often seen on the big screen, and viewers will take pleasure in watching her triumph. But friends are mostly window dressing -- viewers hear about strong friendships, but they come across as fairly shallow.

Violence

Two brutal (both sounding and looking) head injuries are responsible for Ali's magical powers; the scenes are played for laughs. Also pitched as comic are scenes in which Ali slaps, pushes, and chokes her male partner during sex (for her own pleasure).

Sex

Several sex scenes vividly depict Ali seeking -- and reaching -- climax during intercourse (after which she falls asleep, with her male partner unsatisfied); characters keep their underwear on or are covered up under a sheet during these scenes. Characters demonstrate growth during another sex scene, agreeing to share pleasure mutually. Some jokes have a sexual edge: Ali calls her in-shape neighbor "f--ktastic" and later has a dalliance with him that ends with him in black leather on some type of full-body swing. A woman says men just want to get "paid and laid." 

Language

Frequent language includes "f--k" (with many variations), "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch" (both men saying it to/about women and women saying it mockingly to each other), "bulls--t," "motherf----rs," "screw," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," "boobies," "booty call."

Consumerism

A focus on material goods that signal success (like a Porsche) is subverted by a character choosing intangible rewards (the love and respect of family and longtime friends, making a mark in one's hometown) over money, fame, and luxury. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink frequently at parties and dinners, sometimes overdoing it, getting sloppy and wild. A character is served a tea with "a little bit" of pot and MDMA in it; another character sells marijuana illegally (movie is set in Georgia, which doesn't have legalized cannabis trade). A doctor jokes about his addiction to cocaine, which he uses at work. Another joke references a "k-hole." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that What Men Want -- a gender-flipped take on the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want -- is a fairly raunchy comedy about a woman (Taraji P. Henson) who suddenly gains the ability to hear men's thoughts. Characters drink (sometimes too much), and an unwitting woman is served psychedelic "tea" that has marijuana and ecstasy in it (played for laughs). Another character sells marijuana illegally, and a doctor uses cocaine at work (he gets clean by the movie's end). While there's no graphic nudity -- characters are covered by sheets or wearing underwear -- sex scenes include eyebrow-raising movements and noises, and a woman chokes, pushes, and slaps a man during sex while in pursuit of a climax (also played for laughs). It's suggested that characters have grown positively when they agree to "share" sexual pleasure with each other. In one scene, a woman forcefully kisses a (willing) man; it ends with him wearing black BDSM gear on a swing. Language is also salty and frequent; expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," and more. Women, including a main character in her late 40s, take strong, central roles and are unashamed about being powerful and sexual. Parents and children have supportive relationships, and there are themes of communication and empathy.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 13 years old Written by1201td June 2, 2019

Funny Taraji P. Henson comedy is better than most reviews say

“What Men Want” is a very funny comedy that is better than reviews (I promise) I will tell you what it has:
Sex: At a wedding. There is discussion about a man s... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymatthewm_06 May 12, 2019

What Men Want Review

This was a very disappointing movie. The story was extremely boring, and there was about one joke throughout the entire film. This is exactly how you waste a ta... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the sports agency she works at, Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is surrounded by male colleagues all day long -- yet a crushing career blow has convinced her that she doesn't understand WHAT MEN WANT. But when a bonk on the head and a session with a mysterious, psychedelic tea-bearing psychic named Sister (a game and wild-eyed Erykah Badu) coincide, Ali suddenly gains the ability to hear men's private thoughts. Now that she knows exactly what the men in her life are thinking, she hopes to use her new powers to sign hot new NBA draft pick Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie), despite meddling from his temperamental father, Joe (Tracy Morgan), and secure the partnership that's rightfully hers. 

Is it any good?

Viewers will know right away where this formulaic comedy is headed, but that doesn't mean there aren't pleasures to be found along the way. Chief among them: Henson knows her way around a punchline, and it's a kick to see her cast in a comedic role. Dressed in her trademark no-nonsense jackets and suits, her Ali is enviously confident in the man's world of the upscale Atlanta sports agency she works for -- that is, until she's passed over for a partnership and told by her just-shy-of-contemptuous boss that she doesn't "connect well with men" and should "stay in her own lane." Anyone who's ever seen a sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves female revenge fantasy knows what's coming next: comeuppance for those who done her wrong -- and, after some forgivable missteps, ultimate triumph.

The setup is, of course, catnip for the type of viewer this movie clearly hopes to attract: girlfriend groups who will cheer as Ali rises to the top, thanks to her trademark mix of savvy and pluck, and the (thankfully temporary) powers she gains from Sister. What Men Want hits all the beats you expect: First, Ali has to learn how to balance power and sensitivity at work, then, to show she sincerely cares about her (clumsily characterized) girlfriend group and (shoehorned-in) love interest, Will (Aldis Hodge). The emotional moments aren't earned, but they pass by quickly enough that viewers can ignore them in favor of this movie's real, irritatingly rare treat: watching a smart, confident woman in her 40s get what's coming to her, in all the best ways. As an icon that fed-up women can connect to, Henson is perfect, even if this particular movie isn't. 

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