What Women Want is a Mel Gibson movie that hasn’t aged well, like most Mel Gibson movies. So for the inevitable remake—because anything that was even remotely successful 15+ years ago is getting remade—it has been gender-swapped to star a woman who hears men’s thoughts after a traumatic brain jury. It is now called What Men Want and it stars Taraji P. Henson who continues to deserve more than she is being given because this does not look good.
Warning sign #1 is that it is “What men want” and really, who cares? Now is not really a great time to ask people to invest in a story about discovering what men want when our entire culture is overrun by men wanting things to the exclusion of everything else up to and including the rights and autonomy of other human beings. Warning sign #2 is that the trailer is not funny in the slightest, like there is not even one joke that works. Warning sign #3 is a January release date. Superhero movies have sort of redeemed February but January is still a death pit. Movies go there to die.
I see this movie setting up a glass ceiling narrative with Henson trying to break through one of the last bastions of unchecked male dominance in the business world—the sports agency. I see how that can read empowering on the page. And I assume there’s going to be some kind of moral along the lines of “don’t play their game, force them to play your game and win”. At least, I HOPE that’s the moral because if it isn’t oh my god what are we doing? Because the issue I have with this, besides the fact that not one joke works—these are the “good” ones that made the trailer, how awful is the stuff that they cut?—is that now is not the time for a story about a woman making it in a man’s world by learning the man’s game. Practically every day of the past year is a lesson in how very not well the man’s world is working, and how desperately we need to start seeing the world through a different lens. I love Taraji P. Henson and I want her to do as much work as she wants to do and I want all of that work to be good, but I watch this trailer and I get a sinking feeling. I can see how the pitch could be attractive, but this trailer is dispiriting at best. This is the stuff that is supposed to convince us to go to the theater. Can you imagine what the rest of it looks like?