Actor Taraji P. Henson, aka Cookie in Empire and Katherine G. Johnson in Hidden Figures, is going to star in a remake of the 2000 film What Women Want.
In case you’ve forgotten/blocked it from your memory, What Women Want starred Mel Gibson as a chauvinistic, arrogant man who suddenly gains the ability to hear the thoughts of the women around him and uses this ability to sleep with them and steal the ideas of his new boss, Helen Hunt. Eventually, because this was a Nancy Meyers movie, he gains a newfound respect for women and skips off into the sunset with a repaired relationship with his daughter, a romantic relationship with Hunt, and no consequences for his formerly crappy actions.
While it was seen as progressive in its time (women are people too? REVOLUTIONARY) the new film, What Men Want, looks to be a marked improvement. Deadline Hollywood says that it “follows a female sports agent (Henson) who has been constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. When she gains the power to hear men’s thoughts, she is able to shift the paradigm to her advantage as she races to sign the NBA’s next superstar.”
There is something wonderful about Mel Gibson, a man with a confirmed history of sexism, racism and domestic abuse, being replaced in the remake with a black woman – especially a black woman whose career is a history of challenging the tired, stereotypical portrayals of women in Hollywood that the original was full of. It’s also fantastic that What Men Want will have a woman using her ability to correct a sexist imbalance in her field rather than using it primarily to land a husband, as so many films before would have her do – although I’m still hoping she’ll have at least one love interest. Being good at your job doesn’t mean you’re uninterested in sex and love, after all. Go git some, Taraji P.
Taraji P. Henson is also executive producing What Men Want, which has a release date of 11th January 2019. Let’s hope it’s the first of many films to take a tired, outdated idea and give it an interesting refresh with equality and women in mind.