Silly humour and exaggerated drama will only get a production so far
What Men Want will make its money, disappear from cinemas, eventually stream online, and no one will really bat an eye. With a high level marketing campaign, and a smartly edited trailer, all What Men Want needed to do was sell its tickets. Yet, is this really the purpose of a feature film? Surely, there should be some level of pride behind the populist and generic outer skin that makes up for the terrible jokes and rehashed dialogue littering the script.
Ali (Taraji P. Henson) works for a sports agency, signing big players and world stars almost daily. Believing she was moments from making partner at the company, Ali is shot down, devastated and out of luck. That is until she hits her head on a drunken night out, waking up to find she can now hear everything said in the closed minds of the men surrounding her.
The troubles spin-off features with gender reversed roles often find themselves in, stems from their inability to recapture or re-imagine the essence of the original production. These are films finding themselves sticking to the script far too often, failing to find their own individuality, opening themselves up to both criticism and poor ratings if they attempt reenact the original, and similar problems if they fall too far from what the original tried to do.
These types of film are absolutely a tough nut to crack, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its impossible, or they should go about it in the manner What Men Want does. Silly humour and exaggerated drama will only get a production so far, and the film’s happiness with playing the fool is simply not good enough to match the original inspiration, or show enough flair to strike up a new path to success.
Taraji P. Henson is too much, and the script with its pure sense of genericism fairs no better. The lack of ambition in the whole project is such a downer it leaves even the odd good joke falling flat. There’s a huge amount to be said about a film that bases its story line around weak and unabashed jokes.
What Women Want was never great, and a gender reversed version had a top chance of trumping it, showing that this form of the spin-off can work. Instead, the film offers tired cliches and undeniably weak humour, with an obsession to show just how clever and different it is. Whereas it is, in fact, neither.
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