Film Review: WHAT MEN WANT (USA 2019) **

What Men Want Poster
Trailer

A woman is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession, but gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear men’s thoughts.

Director:

Adam Shankman

Writers:

Tina Gordon (screenplay by) (as Tina Gordon Chism), Peter Huyck (screenplay by) |8 more credits »

WHAT MEN WANT is a black woman’s fantasy romantic comedy, a loose remake of the 2000 film WHAT WOMEN WANT.  It is fantasy as the plot follows a woman who, after drinking a potent concoction given by a shaman, gains the ability to hear men’s inner thoughts.  

There is nothing new or innovative in this rom-com with a little spin targeting a black female audience.  Last year’s Netflix original NAPPILY HAPPY AFTER saw a Black lady get her man.  The twist here is hair that made up her life – hair standing as a metaphor for her ego.  WHAT MEN WANT’s twist is less subtle, after an incident, the female protagonist can hear men’s thoughts.

So what do men think that is funny?  Apparently not much as the film attests.  Lots of dirty thoughts, gay thoughts and ridiculous thoughts, most of them more outrageous than funny.  

The woman in question is Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson), a successful sports agent working in a man dominated world of sports.  Her personal agent, who is gay, Brandon (Josh Brener) dreams of becoming a sports agent but Ali wants him all to herself.  When she is passed over to become partner in the firm she questions what she needs to succeed in a man’s wold.  This is when she gains, half hour trough the movie, the ability other men’s thoughts.  This allows her not only to gain the upper hand at work but to engage in sex with several hunks including one who becomes her main romantic interest.

Of all the comedic set-ups, one stands out.  Oddly, the stand out if from Henson’s outrageousness as well as the scene’s.  This is the sex scene between Ali and Will (Aldis Hodge).  Ali plays the dominant sex partner, totally in control and freaking Will out so much so he can hardly breathe (yes, she chokes him) or speak.  Finally after they complete the act, she rolls over to her side to sleep ignoring him and leaving him looking totally flabbergasted.  I would not consider revealing this scene a spoiler as it has to be seen as description does not do the segment justice.

Other parts of the story involving Will’s son, Will and Ali’s misunderstanding and her work among men in the office fall into cliched territory.  The part where Ali makes up with her friends propel the plot but is rather uninventive.

It is interesting to note that Ali possesses this ‘power’ for only half of the movie.  She gains the power only after the 30 minute mark and loses it 30 minutes before the film ends.  Obviously the filmmakers do not think too highly of this niche in the rom-com story.

The film runs close to 2 hours, and that is very long for the typical romantic comedy.  And one feels the length of the running time.  The material is stretched out far too long for too many unfunny parts just to get the narrative flowing and unnecessarily.  Credit to Taraji P. Henson for trying really hard to make the film work.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeoLiTirRp4

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Film Review: HIDDEN FIGURES (USA 2016) ***

hidden_figures_movie_poster.jjpg.jpgDirected by Theodore Melfi

Writers: Allison Schroeder (screenplay), Theodore Melfi (screenplay)

Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kirsten Dunst, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons

Review by Gilbert Seah

HIDDEN FIGURES is given a limited theatre release at Christmas to qualify for the Oscar nominations. Obviously, 20th Century Fox hopes the film will strike it big at the Academy Awards.

Movies cover the hot topic of racial tensions in a number of ways. There is the angry rile up the emotions LOVING, THE BIRTH OF A NATION or the quieter FENCES(also opening during Christmas) where racial problem are irked out by hard-working law abiding citizens in the long run. In HIDDEN FIGURES, racial tension is covered in a whole different light – in a feel good crowd pleasing movie.

As the film proudly annoys at the start with the titles on screen “Based on true events”, HIDDEN FIGURES tells the true, little-known story of three brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA in the 1950s and ’60s and played a major role in sending astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) worked as engineers and “human computers” to push the limits of mathematics — as well as the limits of race and gender in the scientific community. Expect a little bit of romance and a look at the racial tensions of the Civil Rights era in this drama that promises to provide some great, real-life role models for girls and people of colour in STEM fields.

There are a lot of silliness in HIDDEN FIGURES. The most obvious of which is the dialogue penned for astronaut John Glenn (he passed away this month) who is the first American shot into Earth’s orbit. When told of the entry velocity of the spaceship into Earth’s gravitational pull, he remarks: “That’s one hell of a speeding ticket.” When informed where the craft will land, he says: “I always wanted to swim in the Bahamas.” If these were actual words Glen spoke, he must have been quite a clownish goon. The lyrics of the films’ songs (apaprently penned by artists like Pharrell Williams) like: “No more running…” and “Look what you done to me…” which underline the events happening in the film are not only unnecessary but yes, silly to the point of laughter.

Performance-wsie, the three female leads can do o harm. It is also refreshing (and funny) to see supporting actor Jim Parsons (from TV’s THE BIG BANG THOERY) in a thoroughly straight role as an antagonist or the only female in his department. Kevin Costner as the boss adds a certain dignity, welcome in the film.

HIDDEN FIGURES could have turned up a really excellent film instead of this mediocrity written down for audiences to feel good during the Christmas season. It is a question that the director and scriptwriter not having enough faith on the source material that it would work on its own without pumping in additional over-sweeteners.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8xHq6dfAo

 

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Happy Birthday: Taraji P. Henson

tarajiphenson.jpgTaraji P. Henson

Born: September 11, 1970 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Humans have a light side and a dark side, and it’s up to us to choose which way we’re going to live our lives. Even if you start out on the dark side, it doesn’t mean you have to continue your journey that way. You always have time to turn it around.

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