What Men Want (2019)

What Men Want (2019) Cover

If you ever wondered what a super raunchy version of the politically-correct retelling of a forgotten cheap Mel Gibson comedy would look like… It’s here. What Men Want is a gender-flipped revision of the rightfully forgotten What Women Want from the early 2000s, but with the adult-humor cranked up to a solid 8. It works better than it should, but maybe not quite as well as it could.

For the majority of audiences, the most important thing here is just about how funny it is. Personally, I laughed. I laughed pretty hard at times. There’s a solid cast here with great charisma and an interesting script for a foundation. The core of the humor is rooted in mature themes, so think dicks, dicks, dicks, and if you can’t handle that, then you may want to move on. But if you’re fine with the worst of Van Wilder you won’t find anything that you haven’t seen before.

Where things get interesting is just how sensitive What Men Want is when approaching its core themes. What Women Want was a problematic film that couldn’t have existed today and both the writers and directors had a lot of social issues to get right. In a lot of ways, the audience for this film is more sensitive to issues of masculinity, identity, gas lighting, and social equality. That is a nightmare tightrope to walk across and I think What Men Want does so admirably. I think that the writers succeed in this by approaching men and women as both wanting the same things, despite the ways in which they are different.

Here’s the thing, though… most of the issues with the original didn’t stand out so prominently when it came out. This is partly why this movie is such an interesting barometer for how society has changed in the near 20 years since What Women Want came out. In that sense, it becomes pretty challenging to say how the views in this film will hold up over the next 10 or 20 years. This is compounded by the raunchiness of the humor. You just never know.

It feels weird giving a number to comedies because whether or not it makes you laugh is so much of what defines it. Is it funny? That depends on the person. But in the case of What Men Want, there’s something extra here. That sense of looking into how our perspectives have changed about gendered social interaction, and in that sense, it digs into some things that are worth thinking about. I love that there is that layer of cultural meaning to what is otherwise a pretty pithy one note raunch comedy.

Is What Men Want worth watching? I’d say that it most definitely is, though if you have delicate sensibilities I’d still recommend giving it a pass. It’s better than it had any right to be, and I enjoyed the show despite its shortcomings. I’m giving this a 70/100, give or take 10 depending on your sense of humor.

Final Verdict:A fascinating, if crass, reversal of strange movie that plays in some difficult spaces.