Tim Story’s “Think Like a Man” is a romantic ensemble comedy that (like most romantic comedies) seems to have the message that: Men are either selfish, piggish, or too sensitive for their own good but through the magic of a romantic comedy formula can be changed by women. It’s also a romantic comedy that features all pretty looking people, with pretty looking things that live in the nicest, sparkliest sector of Los Angeles. Within those boundaries however, “Think Like a Man” is not half bad.
Even though the movie works within a precise formula (you can practically calculate every plot point before it comes) Story, along with screen writer and African American comedian Steve Harvey craft the story and the characters around Harvey’s own self help book, “Think Like a Man, Act like a Lady,” in which he reveals certain ways women can understand men and attract them.
It’s essentially a battle of the sexes scenario. On the women’s side we have Candace (Regina Hall), a single mother, Lauren (Taraji P. Hensen), the independent working woman, who’s practically her own man. Kristen (Gabrielle Union) who’s fed up with the fact that her boyfriend of nine years Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) won’t propose to her and finally Mya (Meagan Good) the one who’s tired of one night stands.
The women (who all know each other through various connections) are fed up with how selfish and piggish men are so they decide to buy Harvey’s book and wage war.
On the men’s side there’s Dominic (Michael Ealy), the sensitive one, nicknamed “The Dreamer” because he wants to open up his own restraint some day. Michael (Terrence Jenkins), the “Momma’s Boy,” Zeke (Romany Malco) nicknamed “The Player,” Jeremy and finally Cedric (Kevin Hart) the recently divorce friend who’s there basically for comic relief.
I’m not going to go into detail about how these men and woman are connected, this review is already strenuous enough on the account of all the characters and actors I have to list, but you get the idea.
Again, working within the bounds of a romantic comedy formula, Story and crew manage to pull it off. The interactions between the characters are fun to watch. The women have long conversations over wine and candles about what their next move is going to be, the men (who are oblivious about the women’s plan, at first) talking about their progress with the girls at their favorite drinking spot. The transitions between each relationship aren’t always smooth but Story, for the most part, keeps it going at a nice swift pace, so that you don’t feel the two hour and three minute running time until the end.
The picture has a nice, playful energy to it that can be very amusing. Harvey’s script is surprisingly intelligent and mature. Most of the jokes come from snappy, witty dialog, and all of that is elevated by the immense strength of the cast. All of the actors in the central love stories all do well in their type casted roles. The only sore thumb is Hart. His character doesn’t really seem to serve much of a purpose to the movie other than to make comments about how women are bad and make fun of the other guys. Now, I give him credit, his level of energy is 110 percent all throughout and he can be funny at times but for the most part I felt like he was trying harder than needed. Sometimes he literally just walks into a scene out of nowhere, like he’s starving for more airtime. It’s true, Hart’s character does have the epiphany that causes the homestretch of the movie but frankly that homestretch could have happened without it.
Speaking of endings, that’s the only place where “Think Like a Man” truly struggles. As we all know, according to formula, all romantic comedies must end with the guy and the girl getting together. For that to happen there must be a fight followed by a rushed make up. In “Think Like A Man,” Story may have bitten off more than he can chew. Since there are four romances, that means there are four fights, which means there are four rushed, lazy make ups, which in turn means four happy endings. And that’s a long dragging section of the movie. It’s painful enough with one romance, let alone four.
But hey, what are you going to do? The movie should do well with its targeted audience. At the preview screening I attended the audience was howling with laughter. And with in its formulaic bounds the movie works. At this point, when a romantic comedy has a well-written script and a strong cast it’s a blessing.