taraji p. henson

The What Men Want Redband Trailer Brings Slapstick and Sex Jokes

Taraji P. Henson stars in the remake of popular romantic comedy.

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If we’re discussing movies that deserve to be remade, 2000’s forgettable What Women Want is pretty far down on the list. The Nancy Meyers vehicle about a chauvinist pig ad exec (Mel Gibson, pre-drunk anti-semitic ramblings) who gets electrocuted and suddenly starts hearing women’s inner thoughts is the kind of lazy story that leans heavily on worn out stereotypes about men and women.

Now, nearly 20 years later, we get a remake that flips the script with Taraji P. Henson stepping into the starring role as a woman who suddenly finds herself able to read men’s thoughts. According to the synopsis:

Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a successful sports agent who’s constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. When Ali is passed up for a well-deserved promotion, she questions what else she needs to do to succeed in a man’s world… until she gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts! With her newfound power, Ali looks to outsmart her colleagues as she races to sign the next basketball superstar, but the lengths she has to go to will put her relationship with her best friends and a potential new love interest (Aldis Hodge) to the test.

While a movie about Taraji P. Henson taking down the patriarchy from within is appealing, a part of me wishes she were given her own original story. Like Ocean’s 8, this film feels like another tired repeat that replaces successful male-driven films with female actors. I can’t imagine that there aren’t plenty of scripts floating around Hollywood with a unique and compelling storyline centered around a woman. Why can’t women’s stories stand on their own?

The answer, as always, is the patriarchy. Studios (run by men) don’t want to gamble on a female-led film unless its part of a greater franchise or has already been done successfully by men. It’s an inexplicably old and tired way of thinking, as the evidence is overwhelming that female films make box office bank. Girls Trip wasn’t based on a previous film, and it was enormously successful, as were countless other films centered on women.

We’ll have to wait and see how What Men Want does when it’s released in February. The talented Ms. Henson certainly deserves better.

(via /Film, image: screencap)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.