Taraji P. Henson is doing her best work right now and I still don’t think the mainstream is paying attention. Hell, she has created the Alexis Carrington of our times on Empire and nobody gives her the proper respect. So, why relegate her to a gender flipped version of a middlin’ Mel Gibson movie?
The short is that Paramount has more IP than they do original thoughts. The long answer involves taking a hard look at the kinds of films that make money in certain communities. Today, we’re going to split right down the middle. Naturally, I expect to annoy a few people.
When you make a film like What Men Want, you’re telling your audience that you care about two things. Brand familiarity and not answering your focus question. It’s not like every film has to answer its central focus, but films like this make it the crux of everything going down. By ignoring the question, it becomes 1 of 1,000,000 chick flicks.
The problem with the chick flick
The “chick flick” has always existed. In the Golden Era, they were called women’s pictures, ladies shows or simply awful. Decades pass and the terminology waffles between derogatory and sometimes appropriate. But, the guts remain the same.
A chick flick caters to the XX demographic for a reason. These ladies have money, they are under-served and you can use their films to plan around bigger events. Guys are going to Deadpool? Send the ladies to 50 Shades of Whatever. Wax and repeat.
What ends up hurting these movies is that Economics have turned them into tools rather than artistic narratives. Need something that can ladies into the theaters, then make something engineered for them. How about telling a thought provoking and complex movie about their needs? Nah! Let’s slap Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway on a poster, then let the gals figure it out.
Now take that paradigm and throw into the mix, an effort to target the urban market and you’ve got a headache. This film admirably tried to weave in a rather detailed sports plot into the film, but let’s face it. This is a movie for the ladies over Tyler Perry, but not above their respect for Cookie.
The continued economics of catering to What Men Want vs. What Women Want
Tracy Morgan shows up because if you have a loud female lead, you need a comedic jester to make them seem more palatable. Don’t believe me, trace the last few films featuring Tiffany Haddish. Hell, the entirety of The Last OG. Even when making a film for women, you still end up catering to What Men Want.
The rest of the film is mixed between baiting male interests and appeasing female viewers that don’t want to watch yet another Marvel movie. Great efforts exist, but the battle in doing something different keeps creating the same thing over and over again. But, Brian Bosworth got to act in this one.
This is one of those movies that I would love to sit down and observe a cold audience mix of women and men. That sounds like a lot to do for an early year comedy, but I feel there are some insane dynamics to uncover.