What Men Want

It was a safe bet that Mel Gibson wouldn’t be making a cameo in this movie. Of course, he starred in the movie What Women Want 18 years ago. Since he seems to hate women and African-Americans (according to numerous rants he’s been recorded saying), and was so awful in Daddy’s Home 2 — he’ll probably have to stick to directing war movies.

Empire star Taraji P. Henson is in the female version of the Gibson movie, and it seems she doesn’t have the ability to pick a good script.

Aside from Hidden Figures, which was lovely, she’s done Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Proud Mary, No Good Deed, and the film that sounds like it could be a companion piece to this — Think Like a Man.

Girl, either stick to your TV show or have your agent do a better job of reading screenplays and take their advice.

The funniest thing about this movie was before it started. My wife said, “How is this premise even a movie? We know what men want. They’ll think, ‘’I’d tap that. Oooh, I’d tap that. I’d tap that. I could go for some pizza right about now. If I were drunk I might tap that.”

Luckily, from the horrible looking trailers and the restrictions made on critics regarding when our reviews could be release — I thought this would be a lot worse. It ended up having a handful of jokes that worked. Not as many as I would’ve liked, but…

Henson plays sports agent Ali Davis. The name fits, since her dad is a boxing trainer. And that means we get to see one of the best photos in sports history in her office — Muhammad Ali standing over a knocked down Sonny Liston.

Ali doesn’t quite fit in with the boys club at her office. She thought she’d make partner, but was passed over for the promotion (despite making a rather nice interception in the conference room).

She figures her one shot at getting to the top would be landing the biggest college basketball player in the land. His dad (Tracy Morgan) is playing a Lavar Ball type character, that calls all the shots, and is even considering taking the kid to play pro ball in another country. It’s a shame they couldn’t give Morgan funnier lines. About 80% of his ranting fell flat.

In another one of those movie pet peeves of mine, Ali meets the perfect guy, but instead of telling him something that he wouldn’t have minded playing along with (that they’re married, so she can land a client that’s into family values), she hides that. That means he’ll find out later and break off the relationship, only to have her come groveling back at the end.

This movie is filled with a lot of those types of scenes, where if one character just said something to another, there’d be no rom-com style problems.

Now, the comedic premise derives from a bachelorette party in which singer Erykah Badu, in a hysterical role, is a psychic that gives Ali some tea with magical properties. That, combined with a hit on the head during a fall, gives her the ability to read men’s minds (and gives us a great line about Black people not drinking tea after the movie Get Out).

Of course that will give her a leg up at work, and at the poker games. That scene was a pleasant surprise, not just because of the fun cameos at the table, but…whenever people talk about having that super power (or going back in time), I immediately think about how I would parlay that to betting on the Super Bowl and other sports events.

Saturday Night Live member Pete Davidson shows up and…looks just awful. His character is gay and has a crush on Ali’s assistant (Josh Brener). That gives the screenwriters an opportunity to have jokes that only Kevin Hart would find funny (Ali tells her assistant that the guy would like to “pound his butt cheeks”).

The movie had a few fun cameos from athletes (Lisa Leslie, Karl-Anthony Towns). The strangest athlete to see, for those of us that have been watching the NFL since the ‘80s, was former bust Brian Bosworth. Last time I saw him on screen was as a prison guard in Adam Sandler’s remake of The Longest Yard. Anyway, he was solid in his handful of scenes.

The film gave us a rather humorous sex scene, in which Ali’s facial expressions reminded me of Jeff Daniels on the toilet in Dumb and Dumber.  

It’s just a shame the movie wasn’t funnier. When you’re dealing with all of these thoughts men are having, it seems that’s easy pickings. Now, I loved her assistant thinking he’d like some apple slices with cinnamon, and weird non-sequitur lines like that.

Another line that made my wife laugh out loud, was when a character talked about being high from the tea and not hearing men’s thoughts, only the voices of Tupac and Joan Rivers…and that “they do not get along!”

I loved seeing comedian/actress Wendi Mclendon-Covey (Reno 911!, Bridesmaids), who has been nominated for two Critics’ Choice awards for her work on The Goldbergs. Yet making her a Jesus freak is a character trait that’s been played out and better in other films.

It was a fun surprise to see Richard Roundtree as the father/boxing trainer, who has a great relationship with his daughter.

But as disappointed as my wife and I were with this movie, the crowd went nuts over it. The screening audience couldn’t stop laughing, and applauded wildly at the end.

So if the trailers and/or premise looks good to you, you should probably see it.

2 stars out of 5.

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