Taraji P. Henson gives a #MeToo spin to Mel Gibson comedy in 'What Men Want'

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Eighteen years after What Women Want, Hollywood is trading up from Mel Gibson to Taraji P. Henson. What Men Want, a gender-swapped remake of Nancy Meyers’s 2000 comedy, stars Henson as a sports agent who is shut out of the “boys’ club” at her workplace — until she acquires the magical ability to read men’s thoughts. Watch the first trailer above.

In the original film, Gibson played a lothario and proud chauvinist whose life took a turn when he began to hear women’s thoughts. Instead of trying to seduce or manipulate the women in his life, he learned how to be sensitive to their needs — in particular, the needs of a beautiful co-worker played by Helen Hunt. The comedy was a massive hit, the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year. (Remember when a sophisticated comedy could do better box office than a superhero movie? In 2000, What Women Want made $182 million. The original X-Men made $157 million.)

What Men Wants spins the same premise in a very different direction, with a Jerry Maguire-style twist. Henson uses her psychic “gift” to angle for the promotion she deserves and to land a hotshot client. But Henson told Yahoo Entertainment that her character’s journey is not just professional; she also learns to get in touch with her “softer side.”

“She was raised by a single father who owns a boxing gym, so all her life she’s been around men, and you would think she’d know how to operate with men … but she doesn’t,” Henson said. (See the interview below.)

Henson added that she jumped at What Men Want because she’s been “dying to do a comedy.” Best known for her Emmy-winning portrayal of cutthroat record exec Cookie on Empire, along with playing Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures and an Oscar-nominated role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Henson has never had a lead role in a big-screen comedy — and judging from the Twitter reaction, her fans are just as excited as she is.

 

What Men Want, directed by Adam Shankman and co-starring Tracy Morgan, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Josh Brener, Tamala Jones, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Jason Jones, Brian Bosworth, Chris Witaske, and Erykah Badu, opens in theaters on Jan. 11.

Watch Yahoo Entertainment’s interview with Taraji P. Henson at CinemaCon. 

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