In today's Hollywood, if it's not a franchise movie but it has a big budget, there's a good chance it's a reboot or a remake. Unlike the blockbuster fare or classics that are often remade to capitalize on the power of branding and name recognition, it is much rarer to see romantic comedies getting remakes. That may be changing though because Paramount Players, in addition to resurrecting childhood favorites, is fast-tracking a remake of the 2000 romantic comedy starring Mel Gibson, What Women Want. But the twist this time around is that the film will be starring Taraji P. Henson, and she'll be finding out what men want.
This comedy inspired by the What Women Want, Taraji P. Henson stars as a female sports agent in the male dominated field. When her character in What Men Want gains the ability to hear what the men around her are thinking, she uses it to break the glass ceiling and try to sign the next NBA superstar. While no director is attached yet, the film should be ready for a January 11, 2019 release date, per Deadline.
The latest trend in remakes is gender-swapping famous roles, as happened in last year's Ghostbusters. But this latest remake is actually an interesting way of taking the core conceit of a film and using it to tell a different story. Being able to hear men's thoughts creates a lot of opportunities for fun situations and based on the early report, it seems this film will lean more into the comedy elements than the romance. Taraji P. Henson is super talented and is coming off of her role in the highly successful Hidden Figures, as well as starring in Fox's Empire. This starring role will hopefully give her a chance to show off her comedy chops.
What Women Want found Mel Gibson's character, a chauvinist ad executive, gaining the ability to hear women's thoughts and using it to get ahead in the bedroom and in the boardroom. The original flick featured a solid cast including Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Alan Alda and Marisa Tomei. It also had a female touch behind the camera in director Nancy Meyers. The film grossed $374 million worldwide on a budget of $70 million. It will be interesting to see if this type of story can draw the same kind of audience 19 years later in a box office environment that is often feast or famine.
I appreciate that the studio is looking to try something different with this remake but I am concerned about some aspects of it. In the original, Mel Gibson's character not only used his ability to better aspects of his life, but he grew as a character through knowing how the women around him felt. The character started out as a chauvinist but his arc saw him become a better overall person who had a greater respect for the opposite sex. So far this remake just seems to be about using the power to get ahead in a male-dominated field, which could miss the point. I am hoping that there is more to it than that and the film allows for both comedy and insight.