Think Like A Man Directed by: Tim Story Cast: Kevin Hart, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Chris Brown Running Time: 2 hrs 3 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: April 20, 2012
PLOT: In order to control the men in their life, a group of women consult comedian Steve Harvey's book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" for relationship advice.
WHO'S IT FOR? This one is for the dating crowd, although post-viewing conversations might get you in trouble with your significant other (seriously, especially if you try to categorize yourself to each couple). However successful or unsuccessful it may be, it does offer equal amount of entertainment for both men and women. Fans of comedian Kevin Hart will be happy to see that he practically saves this movie.
EXPECTATIONS: Would this big cast equal big laughs? Or would much of the humor be on Kevin Hart's shoulders, who has plenty of experience making people laugh about relationship woes?
Kevin Hart as Cedric: Working at the same speed as his stand-up, the incredibly charismatic Hart fires out witty remarks and immediately makes for the movie's most likable character. As also evidenced by his stand-up work, he doesn't need anyone but himself to create vivid characters (as he does with presenting his ex-wife, who is off-screen until the very end of the movie). To say that Hart saves this movie is a kind understatement. Outside of a couple decent moments, Hart makes this movie much more bearable than it would have been without his dynamic presence. Here's to hoping we see him in many more films, and not just comedies. Score: 7
Romany Malco as Zeke: You might remember him from The 40 Year Old Virgin, and if you do, you'll be surprised by how serious he is here. Of all the men, Malco's character has set the most roadblocks for himself, with his smoothness turning mechanical, and his happiness visibly missing. Though the "player" has seen many days in the romantic comedy, Malco gives a spin to the archetype that is more thoughtful than anyone might have ever expected. Score: 6
Meagan Good as Mya: Though she plays opposite to Malco, it's much harder to sympathize with this character, and weep for her apparent loss of control of her own sexuality. Things only get worse when she follows Harvey's advice, which eventually has her comparing her "womanhood" to a cookie jar, over and over again. Yikes. Score: 4
Taraji P. Henson as Lauren: This character tries to deny the almighty book, calling it "sexist crap" while living alone at the top. What Henson should have done is deny this movie, as she is clearly more capable than playing a one-dimensional character, in a script full of flat folks. Her appearance here feels more cosmetic than anything else. Score: 4
Rest of Cast: The worst performance in the entire ensemble comes from Terrence J, who fails to distract us with his blinding smiles from a stiff, stiff performance as an unbelievable Norman Bates committed to his mama. Gary Owen earns chuckles as "The Happily Married Guy" who hangs with the group of friends and provides some frankness about commitment, along with good banter concerning his status as "the pale guy" in the group. Unfortunately, a grinning Chris Brown, who bounds in and out of the film like Harpo Marx, does not get hit by a bus, or pecked to death by a swarm of birds. Score: 4
TALKING: Harvey's book is name-dropped so many times it's some type of belated Christmas miracle that tally marks don't appear on-screen whenever some utters the title. This is also the type of "battle of the sexes" comedy where someone says "love is a battlefield," and such a statement is meant to be revelatory and thoughtful (it's even followed up by a useless stock footage sequence). Where the film does have some alluring "edge" is with its discussions of race, as the male characters openly razz each other about stereotypes they may or may not fulfill in between their chats about women. Score: 6
SIGHTS: With his book standing as this movie's Bible, Harvey appears only on TV screens albeit a stasis of perfection, speaking to audiences on one specific TV channel. (No matter where characters are, if there's a TV, he's probably going to possess it to offer more of his smiling advice). Animation sequences and stock footage are used with cute purpose to provide nothing significant to the ideas of the movie; ultimately, they make the co-existence of Hart's voiceover and Harvey's "wisdom" all the more confusing. Surprisingly, there aren't footnotes above characters' heads when they reference the almighty book that ultimately brings them to such silly simplicity. Score: 3
SOUNDS: The Think Like A Man soundtrack mixes old with new, as ballads by Bruno Mars and Jodeci share the same emotional space. A title song is performed by Jennifer Hudson and Ne-Yo, featuring Rick Ross. "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)" by John Legend is heard multiple times in the movie, as if it were to be its true theme. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: Though it has nothing to do with relationships or Harvey's book, the scene in which Michael Ealy snidely remarks about his hammy character in Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls is hysterical. It may not serve as more than a cheap shot at a filmmaker many of the cast have worked for, but it's certainly an amusing one.
ENDING: Everyone has their relationship arc completed in a very laborious third act, which ends with a giggly final word from Hart's on-screen ex-wife.
QUESTIONS: Has there been a sluttier adaptation of a book for a film? Did Chris Brown originally have a larger part? Why isn't there a scene in this movie in which the men and women storm into "Family Feud guy" Steve Harvey's estate, spray paint his golden lions, and ultimately burn his house down, namely, the home that his book built? (Some damage should at least be done to Harvey's estate before he puts in that slip 'n slide time machine that this movie is bound to pay for). That seems like the ultimate ending to me.
REWATCHABILITY: I'd only revisit this movie for Hart. The rest of the movie becomes mush even before the first viewing is over.
Through a frustrating amount of cliché ups and downs experienced by each presented relationship (of which there are four) the characters of this story eventually learn the type of lessons that don't need to be found in a book, but can even be found right here in my review. The lessons are simple, because the characters and their dilemmas here are even more simple: Don't lie to your significant other, promiscuity is not going to help find the right person, and don't live inside your own ego. There. Act like a human being, think like someone who's not an idiot. Oh, and sometimes, we need the eggs. Now when can I expect a movie based off this review?
Especially in our age of the dying original screenplay, readers (*cough* Harry Potter *cough*) complain about the importance of "reading the book" to fully appreciate the adapting films, preaching that one can't truly understand the movie without experiencing its original source. This idea is BS, as movies can be based off well-known literary material while offering their own experiences and ideas. Until now.
For once, this concept has been challenged by Harvey's book, which is now adapted into a movie purely made to sell the book to those who don't realize how it will misguide them. The book and the movie are completely hand-in-hand with their ideas - men will act foolish, women will act tool-ish, and everyone will be unhappy until they find their own resolution. With Think Like a Man, you can indeed judge a book by its inept movie adaptation, and vice versa. They both share the idea of promoting archetypes as reality, which is no more disgusting and useless in "the game" than a laughable write-up in "Cosmopolitan" magazine.
Oh, but Kevin Hart is hilarious. Someone give him a better script.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10