Think Like a Man (2012) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use
Running Time: 122 min.
Cast: Kevin Hart, Meagan Good, Romany Malco, Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Terrence J, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Jenifer Lewis, Gary Owen, La La Anthony, Chris Brown, Steve Harvey, Morris Chestnut
Small role: Wendy Williams, J.B. Smoove, Keri Hilson, Kelly Rowland, Ron Artest
Director: Tim Story
Screenplay: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman
Review published June 3, 2014
Think Like a Man is a fictional story inspired by the 2009 nonfiction self-help book by comedian and three-times married Steve Harvey, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man", in which he tells women secrets on how the male mind operates when it comes to relationships and dating. It follows the relationship exploits of six friends who are each in their own relationships that spotlight the various archetypes Harvey discusses in his book of advice. It falls into a burgeoning subgenre of comedies based on nonfiction books like He's Just Not That Into You and What to Expect When You're Expecting.
Kevin Hart (Little Fockers, Superhero Movie) co-stars as a fast-talking soon-to-be-divorcee named Cedric, who is yearning for his freedom from his ex, and who encourages his other friends to not get in too deep in their own relationships because it will just end up making them miserable, despite the fact that buddy Bennett (Owen, Little Man) really loves being in a happy, healthy marriage. Successful businessman Zeke (Malco, The Love Guru) is one of those who thinks playing the field is the better way to go, while his latest would-be conquest is Mya (Good, Waist Deep), who is fed up with the love-em and leave-em types.
Contrasting this, geeky Jeremy (Ferrara, Battleship) is actually in a relationship with Kristen (Union, Cadillac Records), a woman who not only lets him be him, but also participates in his 'guy activities' like video games, comic books, pot smoking and the like, but what she's really wanting is not to be his best bud, but his wife. Mama's boy Michael (Terrence J, Baggage Claim) looks like he has it together on the outside, but his longtime crush and single mom Candace (Hall, Scary Movie 4) doesn't want to settle for being the #2 woman in his life. And lastly, Dominic (Ealy, Barbershop 2) is an unemployed cook who can barely pay the bills, but Lauren (Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is the wildly successful exec who has very high standards of success for any potential mate. In this scenario, the women in every one of these relationships struggle until they decide to pick up a copy of Harvey's book and implement some of the strategies suggested within, and soon they find successful results -- until the men catch wind that they're being played.
Author Harvey (Racing Stripes) appears as himself as seen on talk shows in order to smugly spew out gems of advice from his book, and why not? This entire film will sell him millions more copies of his book as it is a huge advertising vehicle, though one can only wonder why women would want to buy a book that tells women that it's their fault if the man in their relationship is a complete jackass. The cast is the best thing about the film, with Kevin Hart delivering some choice laughs with his typically energetic performance. Meagan Good is quite, well, good as the lover who has been jilted all too often when men get what they want from her -- sex -- and then are never heard from again. It's not the most realistic of films, as such an attractive cast bemoaning the fact that they're having trouble in the dating world seems a bit hard to believe.
The worst part of this sitcom posing as a film, outside of its blatant infomercial nature, is the editing, or lack thereof. First, the film, as directed by Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer) is way too long, pushing over the two-hour mark without enough substance to fill even half of that, despite the rather large ensemble cast. It's also too noisy, too claustrophobic, and doesn't really allow for quiet, emotional moments to breathe before we're cutting to another scene or character to follow. Without the poignancy, we're left with good-looking people in lush environments going through predictable moments until the finale that sees everything get ironed out in predetermined ways.
-- Followed by Think Like a Man Too (2014)
©2014 Vince Leo