Why ‘What Men Want’ Basically Pretends The Original Doesn’t Exist

On Feb. 8, Taraji P. Hensons' new comedyWhat Men Want hits theaters, and it's your big chance to get inside men's heads... if that's something you'd ever want to do. Even if you're not quiet ready for the barrage of thoughts that'll come your way, there's still a lot of female empowerment to cheer for, which is largely absent in the original: 2000's What Women Want. Fortunately, What Men Want is not connected to the original, because the new movie puts a much-needed feminist twist on the concept.

In an interview with Cinema Blend, director of the new movie, Adam Shankman, revealed that What Men Want won't include any of the characters or even take place in the same setting as the 2000 movie, which starred Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. "We're just drawing from the overall comedic set up about being in a situation where understanding what the opposite sex would be thinking and how it would change them in a way they would behave and what that would entail," Shankman said. "So, it's not the same plot at all, it's not the same characters, it's nothing from the Mel Gibson movie used other than one sort of nod to [What Women Want] in one scene."

For fans of the original movie, directed by Nancy Meyers, this might come as a disappointment. But taking the storyline and applying it to new characters — minus, you know, the part where Gibson's character used his knowledge to manipulate his female colleague — completely changes the message. In this version, Henson's character Ali, a sports agent, uses her knowledge to help her navigate the boys club that is her field.

The whole premise of What Women Want is pretty questionable in hindsight. The leading man is an unlikeable character, Nick Marshall (Gibson), who wants to get inside a woman's head in order to create an ad campaign that targets a female audience. Even though the movie has a few fun, feminist moments that point out how deeply misguided Nick's womanizing ways are, the overall plot of a man attempting to understand women so he can out-perform them is pretty outdated — as is to be expected from a movie made 19 years ago.

But Henson, however, told Screen Rant that she was a major fan of the original herself. "This is, like, one of my all-time favorite comedies. The fact that I was thought of when they decided to do the reverse of the story was pretty honoring, I'm honored," Henson said of the 2000 film. As much as the Hidden Figures star loved the original, she also told Screen Rant that she was drawn to recreating the general story because it gave her a chance to make a movie that will open up conversations about gender roles at work.

"You get to laugh but you also — it's almost like watching a comedian, like a Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock. Y’know? They make you laugh, but they are hitting very poignant subject matters," she added. "I think that's what this movie is going to be, more than just a comedy because it's going to continue conversations that we have already started having."

So though What Men Want is all about getting into other people's brains, it may prompt you to take a look at your own thoughts too.