[Review] – Think Like a Man

4 May

Title: Think Like a Man
Year: 2012
Director: Tim Story
Writers: Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, based on the book by Steve Harvey
Starring: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Terrence J, Taraji P. Henson, Romany Malco, Gabrielle Union
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use
Runtime: 122 min
IMDb Rating: 4.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Metacritic: 51

The cast of Think Like a Man is totally game for what this movie requires of them, and that level of commitment to their roles makes this one better than it otherwise would have been. The problem is, however, that otherwise it would have been truly horrible; and as such what we end up getting is a film that’s not very competent no matter how much effort its actors put into it. And that’s because the film behaves like the most generic of romantic comedies, and you’ll be able to telegraph where this one’s going to end up pretty much as soon as it gets going. Not to mention that, at a bit over two hours, it’s about a twenty-five minutes longer than it ever needed to be.

There’s a part of me that likes what this movie is doing, though that’s not because of anything it’s trying to do. Instead it’s purely because the cast, which not only gives their all into every performance and situation but is also a pretty darn good-looking ensemble, really makes you think that maybe, just maybe, this is a good movie. The movie is based on Steve Harvey‘s book that tells women how to think like men and know how men feel so they can get into their minds, and in it you have four interconnected couples, and the ladies in them start reading the book and using it on the men they’re with. Until the men realize what’s going on, get their own hands on the book, and start using it themselves to try and turn the tables on the ladies.

Once you get past the fact that this is just one huge product placement move in which Mr. Harvey himself is seen promoting the book and sometimes speaking directly to us offering advice (and the guy’s actually pretty unconvincing at playing himself, somehow), you’ll start seeing all the other holes in this movie that I couldn’t look past, no matter how much I liked the cast. And that’s because the fact that these characters are based on the examples given on a romantic advice book (which has to be one of the stupidest forms of literature), means that by that very definition they’ll be infinitely one-dimensional.

Think about it. Those romantic advice books have silly examples of how men act that are based, not on secrets like Mr. Harvey would like you to think, but on clichés of how everyone would sort of expect a guy to think, not really considering complex things that go into their thoughts and actions. That means that these characters will all follow very clearly laid out rules about how they should behave and won’t feel original at all, each one of them kind of representing a different chapter in Mr. Harvey’s book or something like that. Plus, I mean, it’s not as though this film made fun of what was being said in that book. It actually took it seriously; it proposed the notion of people living their lives by what that book said and they ran with it for realsies, no satire or parody intended.

Here I am again thinking about the film and thinking, “Damn, but I liked this cast so much” and it sucks because I really did and because they deserve better. And what’s worse is that many of these are actors about whom I’ve said “They deserve better” more than a few times. Taraji P. Henson is one the leading ladies, and she’s just a wonderfully charismatic actress who just hasn’t gotten the right role to catapult her to the big leagues just yet. And then there’s Kevin Hart, one of the best comedians out there right now (and certainly the hardest-working one, in my opinion), who’s here not as one of the guys trying to outsmart their ladies, but instead as the guy sort of reporting from the sidelines to us, getting all the best punchlines. He’s funny here, yes, but the film really isn’t.

So I’m torn about my feelings on this movie. I mean, I know I didn’t like it, but such a big part of me wants to like it. Plus it’s been #1 at the box office for two weekends on a row now so people are digging it and I’ve seen a few favorable reviews for it. I just didn’t get it. I thought it was an expensive informercial for a three-year-old book with some nice actors in it. If I have to judge it as a film, it’s just a hugely stereotypical affair: Men like to hang around playing basketball and avoiding commitment, while women like to gossip and try to get those men to commit. Doesn’t even matter that in real life these women would all actually be way out of most men’s leagues, and they’d be the ones being chased after.

Again, though, even if this film’s characters and situations are all out of some hugely generic imagination, and even though it’s way too long, and even though it’s not particularly funny, I just liked these actors. They’re the reason why I’m not giving this one a failing grade. Mr. Hart was the one genuinely good thing here, and my guess is that some of his best stuff was just improvised and not on the script; and Ms. Henson’s quite good, there’s something about how confident she is and just how does so much with so little that I really like; and everyone else here is fine, too. Overqualified actors for such a film, really. But there you have it, this has rules at the box office two weeks straight, and I don’t really know what that says about both men and women.

Grade: C

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