What Men Long For (Po cem muzi touzí) (2019)
What Men Long For (Po cem muzi touzí) (2019)

Genre: Romantic Comedy and Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: April 5th, 2019 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Rudolf Havlik Actors: Anna Polivkova, Jiri Langmajer, Tatiana Pauhofova, Sara Sandeva, Matej Hadek, Lenka Vlasakova, Andrea Hoffmannova, Nada Konvalinkova

 


 

K

arel Kral (Jiri Langmajer) and Robert Baloun (Jiri Havelka), two men with vastly opposing viewpoints on women, meet on a talkshow (“Top Magazine Star”) to discuss their perspectives. Sexist, conservative “neanderthal” Karel believes women should be wives and mothers, free from the routines of offices and other workplaces. More liberal Robert, on the other hand, feels that women should be allowed to do whatever roles please them. The discussion quickly devolves into a shouting match, and then a full-on fight, resulting in headlocks, torn suits, and plenty of offensive name-calling. Unexpectedly, Robert’s restrictive outlook nets him a beautiful, 21-year-old assistant from the set of the show; who would have thought that his narrow-mindedness would have a positive effect on anyone, let alone an attractive, youthful woman? Additionally, all of this is followed by romantic comedy music, as if Karel’s antiquated standpoint is the norm – while further suggesting that it’s also perfectly acceptable.

The televised brawl doesn’t go entirely without consequences, however, as advertisers begin to cancel contracts with Playboy, the magazine Karel manages. And then, owner Franta (Oldrich Navratil) delivers the news of complaints, a lawsuit, and, finally, Karel’s dismissal from his position. Taking over the editor-in-chief duties will be Leona Black (Tatiana Pauhofova) – a woman (“How can a woman manage a man’s magazine?”)! After Karel leaves his office and tells off his ex-wife (Andrea Hoffmannova), he gets into a car wreck (once again, with a woman), before arriving at a high school to pick up his daughter, Julie (Sara Sandeva), whom he argues with over her expensive college choice.

“Women have ruined my whole day today.” The film is clearly meant to be a comedy, but Karel is so bad-tempered and misogynistic that he’s almost completely irredeemable, just from events within the first 15 minutes alone. That evening, while walking through a “Night of Miracles” celebration (featuring mimes, fire-breathers, and other carnival oddities), Karel ducks into a tent to narrowly avoid running into his ex, only to be granted a wish by the gypsy Zoltana (Pavla Tomicova). Incredulous as always, Kral asks to become a woman, cynically thinking that the fairer sex has it easy in life. Sure enough, however, Karl awakes the following morning to discover that he’s become Karla (Anna Polivkova), a hungover, “natural,” disheveled blonde.

The premise is perfect for laughs, though it’s an obvious take on “What Women Want” (and its recent iteration, “What Men Want”) and “Big,” with a few prominent notes of “Tootsie.” Just because this film is from the Czech Republic doesn’t excuse it from blatant, freehanded thefts of popular Hollywood endeavors. With the sexual about-face, comic scenarios come easy, utilizing plenty of slapstick and playful revenge machinations (accidental infiltration and deliberate sabotage to take down Playboy’s new boss from the inside). From buying outfits to applying makeup to walking in heels, montages of Karla clumsily adapting to female routines provides modest entertainment; there is, admittedly, a bit of fun to be had with his many failed attempts to act and dress with a passing femininity.

“You couldn’t wish for, like, 10 million?” inquires best pal and eventual partner-in-mischief Cestmir Duchacek (Matej Hadek), who oddly doesn’t take much convincing to buy into the idea that his boorish drinking buddy has magically transformed into the opposite sex. “What Men Long For” might have the right intentions, underlining the male chauvinism that can exist in society, and presenting a method to sympathize with the unfairness and hardships that women face not only in the workplace but also in parenting and with physiological issues, but its lack of originality is unquestionably a detriment. Karl finding opportunities to bond with his daughter, getting to know his coworkers, and comically gathering insider information about women are amusing factors, but unsatisfactory repetition and some pacing predicaments also work their way into the picture. Plus, a harebrained scheme to win over a girl – while still in the form of a girl – proves to be quite nonsensical, even in the context of a fantasy-oriented comedy. And the finale is awfully neat and tidy. “Women are smarter than we think,” realizes Kral during his singular ordeal. So, too, are moviegoers, who are likely to recognize the abundance of similarities to popular American properties.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10