Directed by: Tim Story
Release date: April 20, 2012
Running time: 123 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (profanity, mild drug use, sexual situations)
Editor Rating: **1/2 out of 4 stars
In the same spirit of the 1990's best-selling book, The Rules, which was a step-by-step guide coaching women on how to snag Mr. Right for long-term bliss; Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, a top-selling book turned romantic comedy film, carries the torch into the 21st century. The glaring difference is The Rules was written by two women, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, while Think Like a Man comes from the male perspective and the mind of comedian and relationship advocate, Steve Harvey.
The natural comparisons of Think Like a Man to films such as Hitch, He's Just Not That Into You and Valentine's Day arise due to the large ensemble cast and the mind games that are played when venturing into life with the opposite sex and gaining the upper hand. They are all pretty much the same film, with director Tim Story not taking any real risks with the movie and remaining true to classic romantic comedy storytelling.
The Think Like a Man cast is creamed with exceptional talent, but it is the novel that is the star of the show. Steve Harvey plays himself and narrates as well. The book is newly published and Steve is being interviewed on Vicki (Sherri Shepherd) an Oprah style television talk show, which catches the eyes and attention of the female characters of the film. Think Like a Man (the book) becomes the go-to relationship playbook of Mya, (played by Meagan Good), the reformed wrong guy picker; Lauren (Taraji P Henson), the alpha female; Kristen (Gabrielle Union), the patient one and Candace (Regina Hall), the single mother. Though all of the women are not part of one group of friends, the men are, and as fate would dictate the guys find out they are being molded by Steve's words by way of his pupils.
From the onset of Think Like a Man, one point became clear: when it comes to the male psyche, peer pressure isn't always overcome by ageing. Zeke (played by scene-stealer Romany Malco), Dominic (Michael Ealy), Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), Cedric (Kevin Hart), Michael (Terrence J) and Bennett (Gary Owen)are all at varying stages of relationships. They are a close knit group that hangs out often and freely pass on sage advice to one another such as "don't lie, omit."
What most of the men are not prepared for are the women in their lives, whether it's Jeremy, who's stuck in post-adolescence limbo, leaving Kristen running out of patience, or Dominic who finds perfection in a woman who is decidedly above his station. Michael is always torn between two women, one of whom is mom. Bennett and Cedric, the Happily Married Man and the Happier Divorced Man, respectively, are at two ends of the relationship spectrum. Though, Cedric (Hart) hilariously and with full-on shtick, pours out his feeling at every turn.
The most interesting chemistry comes from Mya and Zeke. Meagan Good and Romany Malco reunite in Think Like a Man. They played husband and wife in the ill-fated Love Guru. Mya and Zeke's story for me was the most compelling. I attribute it to the actors, who should definitely appear together in more films if given the opportunity.
There could have been less Kevin Hart and more of his camera time devoted to delving deeper in to the couples and their issues. Without revealing a spoiler, I would have loved to see the Dominic/Lauren storyline taken deeper. Michael Ealy and Taraji P Henson are amongst Hollywood's most talented actors, and there was potential for real juice in their storyline.
All in all the ending is tied up nice and neat in romantic comedy predictability. The audience is not left hanging. The writers (Keith Merryman and David A Newman) give the movie goer just enough laughter, romance, engaging music and beautiful actors to leave the theater feeling satisfied. However, gentleman, if your significant other turns to you and poses the question: "What are your long-term goals?" you better have a good answer.