Rating: 2 stars out of 5
You may vaguely recall a romantic comedy back in 2000 by Nancy Meyers (Parent Trap) revolving around a chauvinistic ad executive, more fit for Sterling Cooper circa 1960s rather than the dawn of this post-feminist millennium. He eventually gets telepathic abilities allowing him to hear the innermost thoughts of the fairer sex. By the end he learns to be more understanding of women and of course, wins the girl of his dreams.
The original What Women Want possessed a great premise but was ultimately quite forgettable, especially after eleven years. Even its stars, Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, have faded either into racist, misogynistic infamy or just general run-of-the-mill anonymity. So it’s rather puzzling that over a decade later, filmmaker Chen Daming would seek to adapt this disremembered film into a Mandarin language remake for Chinese audiences.
Eponymously titled (Wo Zhi Nu Ren Xin), this 2011 Beijing-based version largely follows its source material’s plot to a tee. Andy Lau takes the role of the arrogant, womanising ad man named Sun, while Gong Li stars opposite him as a smart, strong-willed rival female exec named Li. Sun is, of course, threatened when the reigns of his office boys’ club is offered up to the talented Li and yet underneath the resentment and jealously simmers a latent attraction.
One night, while trying on feminine products for a copy assignment, Sun accidentally slips on high heels and falls into the bathtub where he is electrocuted by an electrical appliance. Through some magical cosmic force, he wakes up in the hospital with female-specific mind-reading powers. At first, he uses it to his advantage both in his professional and love lives.
Sun even goes so far as to steal Li’s ideas while brainstorming, an act of deceit that could cost Li her job. As Sun begins to fall for Li’s intelligence and beauty , he must make a difficult choice – either come clean and give up his desire to be the top dog at his firm or face the possibility of losing the woman he loves.
Andy Lau and Gong Li do have some effervescent chemistry and play well off each other but the likeability of the two leads is only able to keep the proceedings interesting in fits and starts. Once again the fabulous premise is wasted on broad, generic humour, which is frustrating. One would think eleven years would have provided Chen Daming enough time to take Meyer’s underlying idea and imbue it with more insight and heft about the nature of gender roles in society, but I guess not.
The story is fun and easy to follow but it’s a facsimile that’s about as nuanced as entering the Hollywood script into Google Translate and hiring good-looking people to act out the results.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini is 24-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for MetroWize Asia.
Hidzir was the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.