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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Stay in Your Own Lane

What Men Want (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Boxing trainer Skip Davis (Richard Roundtree) wanted to have a boy but ended up with a girl, so he named her Ali and gave her a boy's upbringing. Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) has a lot of inner confusion about sexual conventions leaving her frustrated in her love life and in her professional life. She's a sports agent at Summit World­wide Management (SWM) unable to make partner, because in their meritocracy she's her own mediocrity having not signed a single major player (“You don't connect well with men”) though she does okay staying in her own lane. She and her gay assistant Brandon Wallace (Josh Brener) hit on the same men.

tea timeShe and her three best friends are having a bachelorette party for Mari (Tamala Jones) the one getting hitched. They've hired a psychic called Sister (Erykah Badu), whom they found on facebook, to read the Tarot cards for them. To “open the inner portal” she gives Ali a tea extract from Haiti (“freaky tea”), which leaves her woozy. During the festivities Ali goes down for the count and wakes up hearing voices, i.e. men's thoughts.

At first she thinks, “These powers have ruined my life,” but then concedes, “I've been given a gift.” With her new ability, she attempts to do an end run around the competition to sign on to the Atlanta Hawks, Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie) with his wicked jump shot, and to dispense some timely advice to Mari as she's about to jump the broom. There's a lot about getting the jump on the future Sister hasn't told them.


ole gloryThe opening pan of Atlanta shows an American flag displayed in the background, and we see one in front of the SWM building, and at other times in the picture. To fully under­stand the plot, it helps to know a modicum of American history. Concerning marriage I'll quote Dr. Ide: “The Con­tem­por­ary Christian stan­dard was defined not by the bible but gen­er­ated by Roman law as defined by the jurist Modest­inus who argued that marriage was ‘consortium omnis vitae, divini et humani iuris communi­catio: a life-long part­ner­ship, and a sharing of civil and religious rights’” (83–5.) It's not just the state, the civil authority, that decides issues, but religious authority has some say in the matter, too.

According to cultural historian David Hackett Fischer, the Puritans had “a cultural idea of marriage that was unique to the Puritan colonies. … The Puritans of New England rejected all the Anglican ideas. They believed that marriage was not a religious but a civil contract” (77.) In the New England states—& NY & DC—the civil contract was the whole kit and caboodle, so once laws against sodomy were removed it was a simple matter of equal rights to open (civil) marriage to homo­sexuals. The rest of the states did not abide such a redefinition, but the courts stepped in to force their acceptance of same-sex marriage.

In 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the states' bans against same-sex marriage was pseudo- unconsti­tutional—marriage isn't actually mentioned in the Constitution. Quoting from the “Catholic Sentinel”: (15)

The main opinion recognized in several places the role of religious beliefs in the questions surrounding same-sex marriage. Kennedy said toward the conclusion of his 28-page opinion that “it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

The First Amendment ensures protection for religious organizations and individuals as they seek to teach the principles “that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths,” he continued, and to “their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

When Ali reads Brandon's mind, he's thinking about a guy who seems just right for him and imagines them responding to “Do you take this man to be your lawful——” That's as far as he gets with the thought, and it doesn't say lawful what. It's just a legal definition and can be a lawful domestic partner, or a civil union fellow, or these days “husband” although that's not what the state of Georgia wanted. At any rate it's just a legal definition that can be applied to inheritance, hospital visitation, and various legal matters. But domestic partner would work just as well, depending on how the law was set up.

When Mari is getting married in a big church, the preacher defines what is taking place as, “Jesus said, [Matt. 19:4-5] ‘he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?’” Jesus defines marriage as hetero­sexual and monogamous. It would not apply to a man “marrying” another man. Further­more, Ali lets the Spirit move her to get up before the congregation and say that the man Mari is about to wed has been system­atic­ally tapping other women as a matter of life­style and he intends to continue to do so. As if that isn't shocking enough, she adds that the man her friend Ciarra (Phoebe Robinson) is married to has been performing fellatio on some guy regularly. That puts the kibosh on two marriages. Only Ali's (white) Christian friend Olivia (Wendi McLendon-Covey) has a marriage that is holding together. She is “high on Christ.”

Ali's friends do wish she had told them sooner. Christians—with good scriptural reason—lump homo­sexual behavior in the same general category of fornication along with adultery and other sexual sins. The Supreme Court in its legalization of same-sex marriage added that its partakers were subject to the censure of those with sincere religious or other objections. Theor­etic­ally, Ali or any congre­gant could let the Spirit move her to speak against it if a same-sex wedding were happening in a church, although it is hoped some­thing would be said sooner.

The movie ends with a playful testing of various techniques when answering the phone on behalf of an agency whose acronym spells some­thing unmentionable.

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by Adam Shankman. The screenplay was written by Tina Gordon Chism, Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory. The story was conceived by Jas Waters and Tina Gordon Chism. “What Men Want” stars Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan and Erykah Badu. These three were the heavy hitters as far as the acting goes. Other parts filled in nicely, but the child actor and the professional athletes in their cameos had all they could do to remember their lines. Actually, the best acting was done by Charles Green playing Dr. Wilson who had to hurry off to other patients before his character was much developed.

MPAA rated it R for language and sexual content through­out, and some drug material. The pacing was swift with an occasional breather. The circle of family and friends was black but included one white girl. The professional setting was minimally integrated, including a “two-fer” (black and female.) The lead part was toler­ably abrasive, though I'll pass on a second viewing.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I'll chalk this one up as a movie I've seen and enjoyed but won't put on any favorites list. None of it was so bad as to make me walk out, though some material was better than other. If the plot appeals to you, it might be worth viewing.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Special effects: Average special effects. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Catholic Sentinel.” July 3, 2015. Print.

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Print, WEB.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.