What Men Want parents guide

What Men Want Parent Guide

A film that features a tsunami of swearing, reckless sexual behavior, heavy alcohol consumption and jokes about drugs. Its positive messages are too little too late.

Overall D

Being a female sports agent isn't easy but when Ali Davis (Taraji P Henson) develops the ability to hear men's thoughts she gains an unexpected edge.

Release date February 8, 2019

Violence C
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is What Men Want rated R? The MPAA rated What Men Want R for language and sexual content throughout, and some drug material

Run Time: 117 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Ali Davis (Taraji P Henson) is convinced that men want two things – “to get paid and get laid”. Her potential boyfriend, Will (Aldis Hodge), disagrees. “Men and women,” Will tells her, “just want the same thing. To be with somebody they love. Be respected. Be appreciated. Be safe.”

If What Men Want explored the tension between these different points of view, it would be a more interesting film. But all this movie explores is what Ali wants. And what Ali wants is to win. At all costs.

Ali is a sports agent who represents and manages top tier athletes. A leading performer, she expects to be made partner, only to be passed over in favor of a less qualified male colleague. Justifiably enraged, she complains to her boss (Brian Bosworth), who tells her that she doesn’t connect well with men.

Fate clearly has a sense of humor – shortly thereafter, Ali drinks a drug-infused tea given to her by a psychic (Erykah Badu), falls at a nightclub, and hits her head. When she regains consciousness, she discovers to her horror that she can hear everything men (but not women) think. Initially appalled by her new ability, Ali soon realizes that she can use it to level the playing field in a man’s world. But as Ali painfully discovers, all the advantages in the world won’t help someone who is completely focused on themselves to the exclusion of other people’s feelings.

The rest of the story unrolls with few surprises and even less comic relief. In fact, I laughed four times during the film but checked my watch at least a dozen times, wondering how close I was to the end of this tedious film.

From a parent’s perspective, the film’s tedium is the least of its problems. It is literally swamped with profanity: there are approximately 140 curse words in a 117 minute movie. A very conservative count (it’s hard to catch them all when the swear words come in rapid-fire delivery) indicates that there are 41 sexual expletives, 48 scatological terms, a variety of coarse words used to describe breasts and genitalia, terms of deity, and a variety of other curses. As bad as the profanity is, it pales against the sexual content. This movie features frequent discussion of sexual activity – straight and gay – as well as scenes of the actual activity. Ali indulges in reckless sexual behavior on a couple of occasions. First, she gets drunk at a bar, goes home with the bartender, and has extremely vigorous sex with him – she is shown on top of him with her bra on and while a sheet covers them below the waist, little of their activity is left to the imagination. On another occasion, she makes out with a stranger in an elevator and goes home with him, only to leave when she sees him tied up for bondage activities. An episode that is supposed to be funny involves a woman inflating plastic male genitalia at a nightclub: her friends proceed to rub it when they are dancing. When Ali shows up at work with a condom stuck to her jacket, it is supposed to be a funny moment but it falls flat. The icing on the content cake, so to speak, is the movie’s cavalier attitude to drugs and alcohol. All characters are shown drinking alcohol on social occasions, and several are shown drunk. Drug use is frequently mentioned throughout the film and is treated as a comic element, even when it is combined with alcohol consumption.

Although What Men Want makes a weak effort to deliver messages about caring for others and being considerate, it’s too little too late. This crude, charmless film is definitely not what parents want.

Directed by Adam Shankman. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Max Greenfield. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release February 8, 2019. Updated

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What Men Want
Rating & Content Info

Why is What Men Want rated R? What Men Want is rated R by the MPAA for language and sexual content throughout, and some drug material

Violence: Two characters spar in a boxing ring. A woman backs a pool cue into a man’s crotch. A number of characters are involved in a brawl at a church wedding – they push, hit, and one woman has some hair ripped out. A character trips and hits her head on a stage. A main character hits her head on a large planter.
Sexual Content:   A main character tells a gay joke. A main character talks about being naked. A main character gets drunk at a bar and goes home with the bartender. They have a vigorous sexual interlude: her bra remains on but the sexual activity is clear and involves her slapping the man and holding him in a way which looks like she is choking him. A child is shown wearing the woman’s panties on his head. The main character goes to work with a condom stuck to her clothes. A joke is made about semen. Women wear extremely low cut dresses on several occasions. A secondary character inflates a giant penis at a nightclub. Her friends rub it while they are dancing. A main character gets hit with the inflatable penis which causes her to trip and fall. There is a reference to inserting objects rectally. Someone mentions gonorrhea. A woman is wearing a pair of joke glasses that have an attached nose which resembles a penis. Scantily dressed women are dancing suggestively on a stage. A man thinks about wearing women’s underwear. Some comments are made about gay sex. A man questions how a woman got pregnant when he tried to prevent it. A man thinks about getting his prostate checked. A man thinks about freezing his semen. A woman kisses a strange man in an elevator. They embrace passionately, she rips his shirt off, and she goes to his apartment with him to have sex. She uses his razor to shave her bikini area. She leaves when she discovers that he is interested in bondage. A man thinks about dating strippers. There is a coded reference to gay sex. A woman wears a blouse that is sliding off her shoulder: her strap is showing. A main character has sex a second time – activities are strongly implied. Characters have a public discussion about a sexual activity that can’t be explained on a family website.
Profanity: Excessive amounts of profanity with approximately 140 uses of coarse language in 117 minutes. A very conservative count yields 41 sexual expletives, 48 scatological curse words, 27 terms used to describe genitalia or breasts, and a variety of other curse words and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main and secondary characters discuss using marijuana, cocaine, crack, LSD, ecstasy and peyote. Main characters are shown drinking alcohol socially and at work. The main character is shown drunk after smoking pot and drinking alcohol. The main character drinks a tea which is spiked with drugs: she hallucinates. A secondary character tries to persuade a nurse to give her drugs.

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What Men Want Parents' Guide

When Ali discusses her career prospects with her boss, she determines that she hasn’t been fired for the same reasons she hasn’t been promoted – she’s black and female. What is the difference between tokenism and true diversity? How does tokenism harm minority groups? What kind of discrimination do women of color face in the workforce? What can be done to create inclusive workplaces?

Read books about What Men Want

Do men and women really think differently? In Simon Baron-Cohen’s The Essential Difference, the scientist argues that men and women have innate differences in their brains and thought patterns. Susan Pinker also follows a similar track in The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap.

Does understanding other communication styles help in the workplace? Try Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation to improve professional communications.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

What Men Want uses the same premise as What Women Want but switches the sex of the main character.

A young girl is able to control the thoughts of other people in The Darkest Minds.

In 9 to 5, three women even the score for the way they are treated at work.

On the Basis of Sex tells the true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lifelong battle to end gender-based discrimination.