Have you ever had a protein shake?
The concrete-tasting beverage aimed to fulfill a protein intake and fix you up for the evening while simultaneously torturing your food-loving soul is not something you particularly cherish. You consume it, and then begin to hate yourself, because you know it did the job without bringing you any joy.
Adam Shankman’s What Men Want is a cinematic protein shake. Devoid of real humor or pleasantry outside of serving its general purpose as an excuse to throw $12 down the drain and get out of the house, the so-called comedy earns a few laughs, but even more sighs and head tilts. If I was scoring in the theater, I wanted to check my phone about sixteen times. Is that good? The short answer is no.
If you’ve seen the Mel Gibson 2000 film entitled What Women Want (the writing credits are cited on the new film’s IMDB page), the story isn’t hard to grasp. Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson, trying to make cut a steak with a butter knife here) is the rising star in her sports agency who is constantly blocked by the men in her industry. Her boss (Brian Bosworth, I’m not kidding!) even tells her to stay in her lane. Ouch. Through a series of sorta-fortunate events, Ali gets the power to read the minds of men everywhere.
Yada, yada, yada. Snore. Yawn. Meh. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Henson is a capable actress. All you have to do is watch Fox’s Empire or the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures to recognize this woman can be a force of nature in just about any role. However, she can’t even lift up this pile of drivel that got laughs out an audience seeing it for free. I didn’t pay either, and laughed at times, but if I was forced to hand over coffee money for this film, I’d file a complaint when I left.
Nothing is new here. Does Ali meet a guy and use him for her personal gain? Yep. Does she come off as cynical and distant at first before thawing out? Yep. Is there one young hopeful basketball player she can sign to make things right? Sure. All the checkboxes are swiped, and the audience is left wondering who wrote this thing? Three people did, and they more than likely passed around the laptop while watching the Gibson film.
Nancy Meyers’ film was sharper, carried better acting, had a heart, and was actually funny. Gibson was in his movie star prime, and he had genuine chemistry with co-star, Helen Hunt. None of that is here. Meyers found charm under every rock she flipped over, and didn’t have to force anything.
Shankman is the opposite. He doesn’t know how to be precise with his filmmaking tendencies, and makes a TV movie of the week every time. Check his resume. The Pacifier, Cheaper By The Dozen 2, and Rock of Ages? When your best film is A Walk To Remember and is over 18 years old, check yourself into director rehab.
What Men Want is all formula. Like a protein drink that you force down your throat in order to feel better about yourself while you personally feel like throat-punching the first person you see eating a double cheeseburger.
Is it terrible? No. It’s definitely far from good and not worth your money. Save it.
Rent the Meyers film and revisit a time when Mel Gibson had true star power, and the enjoy a few other of her films such as Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated. Those films are one-track minded with an eager to please mystique attached to their purpose, but at least there’s some skill in the follow-through.
Here, there’s none to be found. The stink of January sneaked into February.
How mediocre was What Men Want? I felt like watching a basketball game instead.