The movie, directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”), surrounds Henson with a gifted support squad featuring plenty of other TV stars, including Josh Brener as her harried assistant, Pete Davidson, Jason Jones and Max Greenfield as back-slapping coworkers and Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tamala Jones and Phoebe Robinson as her best friends. There are also several cameos by athletes playing themselves (and even NBA commissioner Adam Silver), along with former football star Brian Bosworth as the firm’s senior partner.
Still, “What Men Want” often appears to be working too hard at being bawdy, in the way R-rated comedies sometimes do. By contrast, the more intimate scenes — beginning with Ali’s relationship with her dad (Richard Roundtree), who brought her up to be tough and self-sufficient — generally prove more effective.
Ultimately, Ali’s preconceived notions about what men want — basically, money and sex — help trip up the movie, whose more madcap representations of those innermost thoughts don’t make the most of the concept.
Muting the spark of creativity, “What Women Want” seems as if it’s trying to guess what various quadrants of its audience will want, and you needn’t be a mind reader to see how that strategy usually works out.
“What Men Want” opens Feb. 8 in the U.S. It’s rated R.