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'What Men Want': Beating men at their own game

Taraji P Henson in a scene from the rom-com What Men Want. Picture: Paramount Pictures

Taraji P Henson in a scene from the rom-com What Men Want. Picture: Paramount Pictures

Published Feb 22, 2019


Those who have seen the trailer with the little kid and his Wakanda gesture in a rather awkward yet hilarious situation, are undoubtedly eager to make a beeline for their nearest cinema this weekend.

Of course, there is also that innate curiosity to compare 'What Men Want' with its predecessor, What Women Want (2000) with Mel Gibson. Do note, the worlds are different - it has shifted from the advertising sphere to a sports agency, Summit Worldwide Management.

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There is a blatant old boys’ club culture here and Ali Davis (Taraji P Henson), while a hotshot sports agent, is often sidelined by her boss.

The movie opens with Ali burning calories on the treadmill while attempting to strike up the best promotional deals for one of her clients. Her long-suffering camp assistant Brandon (Josh Brenner) arrives with her dry cleaning and unsolicited advice on her wardrobe.

And it’s a big day for her - she is confident about finally making partner. Dressed to kill, she arrives at the office in her Porsche - a rental, of course.

Sadly, she is passed over for the promotion yet again. And in a moment of unadulterated embarrassment, she grabs on to the football meant for her male colleague. In a heated confrontation with her boss, she is told to “stay in her lane”. 

Everything he insinuates - as saying it would fall into the libellous category - screams of blatant sexism with undertones of racial profiling.

Enraged, she drowns her sorrows at a bar, after dinner with her father. This is where she meets Will (Hodge), the new dreamy bartender. And in the morning she meets his son, who is wearing her underwear as a mask. Yikes.

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With her life spiralling out of control, she decides to prove herself by landing the most sought-after basketball newcomer - Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie). There’s just one problem - his overbearing father, Joe Dolla (Morgan), makes all the decisions in his son’s life/career.

In dire need of a timeout, she joins her girlfriends for a night on the town. But first, one of the friends invites over a psychic named Sister (Badu). The result: Ali starts hearing men’s unfiltered thoughts.

This throws her life into a tailspin, until she starts using her “gift” as an edge to woo Jamal into signing up with them.

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P Henson channels Cookie’s (her popular TV character in Empire) sassiness and charm with aplomb.

And fans are going to love every brassy line that comes out of her mouth. Her character’s ballsy stance with her male counterparts will have women cheering her on.

The writers have ensured the #MeToo undertones are included in the script, masked with comic levity.

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And cinemagoers are going to lap up Morgan’s character as well. He is back in his element, following the tragic accident of 2014.

What Men Want is an entertaining film with a climax that will leave viewers in awe of Ali’s chutzpah. For the record, she loves her lane change.


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