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Movie Review

Ali Davis is climbing to the top.

A hard-working woman making a name for herself in the world of men and sports, Ali is fearless. Her hard work and impeccable record show that any supervisor would be a fool to pass her up for a promotion.

But when she’s overlooked for her dream position, she’s told it’s because she doesn’t understand men.

Frustrated and demoralized, Ali goes to a bachelorette party looking to blow off steam. And not only does she let loose, she drinks a special tea given to her by a psychic there—a tea that mystically gives her the ability to hear men’s thoughts.

Now, Ali perhaps holds the key to right the ways she's been wronged by men. But this special “gift” might be more than she can handle—and she’ll soon learn that hearing is not just from the head, but the heart.

Positive Elements

Ali is a dedicated, industrious employee who tirelessly competes in a world governed by men. Although she doesn’t always make great decisions, she still works hard to hold her own.

Ali's wise father, who raised her on his own, offers her sage advice when she needs it. He apologizes when necessary and tries to help his daughter work through personal issues. He loves and supports Ali as well. Some of her father's wisdom comes in handy when Ali meets a new love interest, Will. A single father himself, Will is also concerned with raising his son well, and he puts his son's welfare before his own interests.

Will believes all men and women desire to be loved, respected and appreciated. He is also fiercely loyal and faithful, and these characteristics are contrasted against other men in the movie who are unfaithful in thought and deed.

Despite the problems we'll soon see, What Men Want still has some positive things to say about the importance of self-worth, honesty, vulnerability and trust, as well as extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us.

Spiritual Content

During a bachelorette party, a psychic arrives to perform readings on multiple women. The woman, known as Sister, uses Tarot cards and a crystal ball. She tells one woman that she’s on a spiritual journey where she’s both “yin and yang.”

One of Ali’s friends calls herself a devout Christian, and she talks about how she lives a new life now that she’s “saved.” Unfortunately, this often self-righteous woman is mostly used as a comedic foil in the film. She tells her friends she doesn’t need drugs because she’s “high on Christ,” and she uses her faith to justify her harsh responses at times. She jokingly says she’s been “praying and fasting all night” for a friend. Ultimately, though, she does everything her friends do, which frames her as a hypocrite.

A man is called “the devil” after receiving a psychic reading including the numbers “666.” A wedding ceremony is performed in a church, where the minister talks about God and commitment in matrimony. A woman makes a biblical reference to “throwing stones.”

Sexual Content

We see a couple of sex scenes that involve explicit sounds, gestures and movements. These scenes picture a woman in a bra and a shirtless man. Later, it's clear that a couple is naked in bed, though they're covered by a sheet. Ali’s underwear is mistakenly used by Will’s son as a “mask” the morning after she and Will have sex.

Couples kiss and make out passionately. Women wear revealing outfits, and men are seen shirtless. Men and women dance closely at a club, and the camera sometimes focuses closely on women's bodies.

Various elements of sadomasochism are talked about and acted out. One man chains himself up and wears a mask (terrifying the date he makes out with and intends to take to bed). Other such elements are included in conversation and heard in men’s thoughts.

Two men are interested in one another, and we hear verbal descriptions of gay sex. Women leer at men, and vice versa, and there’s plenty of flirting, too. Men's crude comments and thoughts deal with subjects such as being naked, careless sex (both homosexual and heterosexual), sex with parents, infidelity, male and female anatomy, masturbation, bodily fluids, impotence, sexual satisfaction, anal and oral sex, genital piercings, strippers and other anatomical references.

Still other sexual content deals with condoms, genital grooming, sex toys (which we see). A psychic tells one of her female clients to declutter her mind, saying she's both "male and female." A song calls a woman a "hoochimama."

Ali is often pushed aside because of her gender. She’s not invited to work functions and is told to stay in the “female lane” when it comes to her work priorities.

Violent Content

A woman falls off a stage and smacks her face, knocking herself out and sending her to a hospital. Elsewhere, a woman is hit with a heavy object and is also knocked unconscious.

Women get into a violent fight in which they rip one another’s hair out. Also, men are slapped in the face a few times. Someone references having a stroke. A man yells, saying he will “rip out” his brothers’ eyes. We hear that a woman has died.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is uttered nearly 50 times and the s-word more than 40 times. God’s name is misused four times, including pairings with “d--n.” “B--ch” is heard nearly 20 times. Other profanity includes multiple uses each of “a--,” “a--hole,” “d--k,” “h---,” d--n,” “d--mit” and “n-gga.”

We see several crude hand gestures. Someone is called “stupid” repeatedly, and a woman is told she has “b-lls.” Women are derisively referred to as “hoes” once or twice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Men and women talk frequently about various prescription and illicit drugs, including Xanax, crack, marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, LSD and ecstasy. A woman drinks tea that’s laced with marijuana, ecstasy and other drugs. Someone offers glue (to be sniffed) as a drug.

We see a bong, although no one uses it. People often drink wine, champagne, hard liquor and beer, and they take shots. A few women drink to excess.

Other Negative Elements

Ali has difficulty trusting people. But she often treats others selfishly herself, pushing people out of her way as she pursues her own agenda. Ali uses multiple men and women in her life to further her career, while turning a blind eye to the hurt and pain she is causing.

Men and women play a game of high-stakes poker. A woman uses her career to swindle others. Many characters make poor choices as they lie, cheat and compete to get what they want at others' expense. We hear that a wife has left her husband.

A man passes gas, and someone asks a crude question about defecation. We hear jokes made about race and white privilege. A man tells his female, black employee that he would fire her if she weren’t a minority. Likewise, gender discrimination is present in the workplace and evident in conversation.

Conclusion

If you take a stroll back to the year 2000, you might remember the PG-13 comedy featuring Mel Gibson called What Women Want. Based on a chauvinistic, male executive who can’t seem to keep his sexual impulses under control, the movie shows what might happen to a man who has the ability to read women’s thoughts. It changes his life—for the better.

In the same way, What Men Want focuses on a young woman who is determined to make a name for herself in a career field dominated by men. It shows the difficulties she faces as a black woman, as well as highlighting the wit she must possess to survive, thrive and grow as a person.

But where the first film showed the sensitive side of women, this sequel dives deep into the thoughts of men. And what we find there isn't sweet.

Sexual content fills this romcom, visually and verbally. Sex scenes technically avoid nudity but still leave little to the imagination. And then there's the dialogue. Whether it's what men talk about or what they think about, sex often occupies their hearts and minds, according to this film. Things get really crude, really fast. Toss in some profanity and some occult spirituality, and we have even more problems to sort through.

What do men really want? This film's answer to that question isn't flattering at all.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Taraji P. Henson as Ali Davis; Aldis Hodge as Will; Josh Brener as Brandon Wallace; Chris Witaske as Eddie; Max Greenfield as Kevin Myrtle; Paul B. Johnson as Scott; Brian Bosworth as Nick Ivers; Kausar Mohammed as Jenna Abbiddi; Richard Roundtree as Skip Davis; Tracy Morgan as Joe 'Dolla' Barry; Shane Paul McGhie as Jamal Barry; Phoebe Robinson as Ciarra; Wendi McLendon-Covey as Olivia; Tamala Jones as Mari; Erykah Badu as Sister; Pete Davidson as Staff Worker

Director

Adam Shankman ( )

Distributor

Paramount Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

February 8, 2019

On Video

May 7, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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This Plugged In review contains information about graphic sexual or violent content. It is not suitable for all ages. Reader discretion is advised.
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