Mark Reviews Movies

Think Like a Man


2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Tim Story

Cast: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Romany Malco, Gabrielle Union, Gary Owen, Jenifer Lewis

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use)

Running Time: 2:03

Release Date: 4/20/12

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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 19, 2012

The end credits of Think Like a Man assure us that the movie is indeed based on Steve Harvey's book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. It's a redundant credit, really, since the movie is essentially a two-hour advertisement for Steve Harvey's book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. The book (Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man) has as prominent a role as any of the actors (in one case, more so). Characters constantly quote it, highlight passages within it in close-up, begin dialogue with "Steve says," hold the book up for other characters to see (One instance, right in the middle of a conversation, is especially egregious, as a character perfectly frames it on a table as if she's in a commercial), and call or visit local bookstores only to discover that the tome is sold out.

The author himself even appears on screen a few times to read passages and talk about how important the book is for women to truly understand how the typical male mind works in terms of relationships. The characters are archetypes that Harvey establishes within the book, and director Tim Story conveniently introduces their stories as interactions as "male type" vs. "female type/plan." Yes, the term he uses is "versus" because love, as we all know, is a battlefield, and, yes, that song is quoted here, as well.

See, the women of Think Like a Man (based on Steve Harvey's best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man) have taken Harvey's book (In case you've forgotten—and the movie tries really hard to ensure that you never, ever forget—it's called Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man) to heart. They have determined to use his tips and tricks (but mostly tricks) to nab themselves the best man they possibly can. They might even learn that the best man they thought they could get is only an illusion established by their own high standards. Conveniently, each one finds a man who perfectly fits within the parameters of the various types of men that Harvey believes there are. There are six, apparently, so we have a group of six friends.

Dominic (Michael Ealy) is a "dreamer," a man with lots of ambition but no tangible plans on how to actually achieve anything. He greatest ambition, it seems, is to woo Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), "the woman who is her own man," a successful businesswoman who thinks Harvey's book is a bunch of hooey. She is, obviously, converted quite quickly.

Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) is "the man who won't commit." He's been dating Kristen (Gabrielle Union) since college, and she complains to her female friends that their apartment looks like a frat house. He thinks she really likes video games and science fiction and action figures; she only likes them to make him happy. She decides to redecorate their place and get him to actually fulfill his career ambitions.

Michael (Terrence J) is a "mama's boy," and that should pretty much define itself. He spends every Sunday night with his mother (Jenifer Lewis), who has kept his room exactly as it was when he was a child and does his laundry for him. When he meets Candace (Regina Hall), a single mother, he's torn between determining who the number-one woman in his life should be.

Zeke (Romany Malco) is a "player," a man who goes after women only to take them to bed and forget about them as soon as possible afterward. Mya (Meagan Good), of course, is different. She's decided to apply a "90-day Rule" (no sex until after 90 days) to her dating life after being stood up by one guy only looking for a one-night-stand too many. Zeke complains that he's getting "a relationship without the sex" when all he wanted was "sex without a relationship." When Keith Merryman and David A. Newman's screenplay isn't directly quoting Harvey's book, the dialogue is as on-the-nose as that.

The circle of buddies is completed by Bennett (Gary Owen), "the happily married man," who really only exists to serve as the setup to the punch line of introducing Cedric (Kevin Hart), "the even happier divorced guy." Cedric, who narrates as if he's had far too much caffeine, is loud and protests perhaps a bit too much about how life was with his ex-wife. Now, he spends a lot of time in Zeke's apartment while his daily schedule revolves around the operating hours of local strip clubs.

There's nothing particularly insightful about relationships here, and the last act suffers from the problems inherent in a structure that assembles a group of interconnected people. They simultaneously encounter snags in their relationships, and Story just lets them play out one after another after another as sad string music comes up on the soundtrack.

Before all of that, though, Merryman and Newman's script embraces its situational comedy setup—for better and worse. When they aren't quoting the book, the actors occasionally have some genuinely amusing interactions. It's a shame their sole purpose is to hawk a book (available in fine stores everywhere while supplies last) in Think Like a Man.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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