Taraji P. Henson and Will Packer have reunited for the R-Rated comedy What Men Want, the reimagining of the 2000 film What Women Want with a special, hilarious twist. Henson plays Ali Davis, an ambitious sports agent trying to break the glass ceiling of the old boys club and make partner. Davis is struggling to make progress when she is magically bestowed with the power to read men’s thoughts and uses her new perception to advance her career.
“[Ali] is a woman on a mission who is going to figure out how to succeed no matter what at all costs,” says Producer Will Packer (Think Like A Man, Girls Trip, Ride Along). “When she doesn’t get what she wants, which is the promotion to partner, she goes into a little bit of a rut, she gets upset. But then she gets a gift. She wakes up and the first she thinks is it’s a curse, ‘This is awful, I can’t get these voices out of my head.’ Then she realizes it’s a gift. ‘I can use this to my advantage to get ahead of the guys trying to keep me down.’ Throughout the movie she’s on a mission, figuring out what she needs to get ahead.”
In this first look at What Men Want, Davis is in hot pursuit of a new client, an NBA prospect with an eccentric father, Joe “Dolla” Barry, played by Tracy Morgan.
“If you’re gonna redo What Women Want, you gotta do it with somebody who’s a true force of nature in that center role,” Packer continues. “You gotta do it with someone who has the skillset to be strong yet vulnerable and really, really funny. Taraji handles all of that. I love it because we haven’t seen Taraji in comedy in a while. She’s been killing it in the dramatic space on the big and small screen, but Taraji in real life is hilarious. So for her to get a chance to do a comedy was awesome.”
Henson is equally generous in her praise of Packer, who she worked with on the two Think Like A Man films and No Good Deed.
“For me as an artist I trust him,” says Henson. “There is no worry for me so I can do my work uninhibited. I know he’s gonna take care of me. He knows how to make a successful movie and I’m always honored and thankful when he calls on me for projects. He just knows talent. He knows what looks good.”
While What Men Want is a comedy, it is a timely commentary on that state of women in the work place. August 7th was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day to punctuate how much greater the wage cap is for women like Ali than their white counterparts.
“As a character, agent and a woman, I want people to know that art imitates life and the only thing Ali wants is to be treated like her fellow male colleagues,” says Henson. “She wants to be paid equally and recognized for her worth and her value.”
“That’s why the timing of this is so important and relevant now,” says Packer. “The conversation has never been louder and never more important than right now, regarding equal pay for women. So to have a fun movie about the wish fulfillment of hearing men’s thoughts, but at the center of it is a really important theme of a woman who deserves to get better than she’s getting, that’s kind of cool. That’s the kind of movie we should be seeing in 2019.”
Check back tomorrow for the premier of the What Men Want trailer and exclusive video from the set!