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"THINK LIKE A MAN"
(2012) (Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Romantic Comedy: A group of male friends look to turn the tables on their girlfriends after they discover the women have been using a self-help book against them.
PLOT:
Four male friends continue to navigate the tricky dating scene of modern-day Los Angeles. Dominic (MICHAEL EALY) is an aspiring chef who is attracted to Lauren (TARAJI P. HENSON), a Type A career woman with high standards. So, he lies to her about his success. Jeremy (JERRY FERRARA) has been in a relationship with real-estate agent Kristen (GABRIELLE UNION) for nine years, but has yet to ask her to marry him and they live in a glorified bachelor pad with movie posters on the wall and various collectible toys strewn throughout. Michael (TERRENCE J), who has an unnatural attachment to his widowed mom Loretta (JENIFER LEWIS), begins dating single mother Candace (REGINA HALL). Zeke (ROMANY MALCO), meanwhile, is trying his best to seduce new girlfriend Mya (MEGAN GOOD), who has had it with men looking for commitment-free sex.

Looking for commitment and more mature relationships, the women turn the tables on the men when they begin reading a new self-help book by comedian and game-shot host Steve Harvey. Suddenly, Lauren is lining up financiers for Dominic's dream restaurant, Kristen has redecorated her and Jeremy's home with modern furniture and artwork, Candace has given Michael an ultimatum to put her first in his life, and Mya has Zeke on a 90-day probation period before she will sleep with him.

The tables turn on the women when the guys learn that they have been reading Harvey's book, and they begin using the various chapters to get what they want. All the while, their newly divorced friend Cedric (KEVIN HART) is chomping at the bit to get back onto the dating scene and he frequently gives them hilariously wrong-headed advice about to deal with their relationships.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
There is a lot right in the new romantic comedy "Think Like a Man." In fact, there's more right than wrong. So, I'm not gonna break up with it. The movie and I had some laughs. We shared some truths. And I actually respect it the morning after seeing it. I didn't expect much from it. I didn't think I'd fall in love with it. Maybe on a couple more repeat viewings, I can will myself to love the film. For now, though, I just to keep it light, keep it casual, have fun with it. There's no need to put any more pressure on the film or make it anything that it's not.

"Think Like a Man" is all about relationships. It's based on a best-selling self-help book by comedian and game-show host Steve Harvey, and is meant as an almost instructional how-to for women to understand men specifically those "players," "momma's boys," and "man children" out there who want all of the benefits of a relationship but have a hard time committing. There's one married guy in the flick. But he's trotted in every 10 or 15 minutes and put on display like a Roswell alien and then dispatched back to the story's periphery.

The focus is on eight fantastically good-looking and in-shape thirty-something idiots who don't have a clue about committed love. There's the career woman (Taraji P. Henson) who falls for the blue-collar guy (Michael Ealy). There's the guy (Terrence J) who is still too attached to his mother who falls for a single mother (Regina Hall) with a 7-year-old son. There's the playboy (Romany Malco) who falls for the formerly promiscuous woman (Meagan Good) now craving commitment. And, finally, there's the guy (Jerry Ferrara) who still loves to play video games, hang movie posters on the wall, and get high occasionally who can't commit to his long-time girlfriend (Gabrielle Union) who craves a more adult relationship (and house).

The ensemble here is quite good, and the film's screenplay does a nice job of making the various dialogue-heavy scenes sound pretty close to real people talking. I also liked that this was a PG-13 movie with not an excessive amount of hard profanity. It's a movie about mostly successful, young professionals who are into things like wine and food, fitness and health, furniture and nice homes. They don't all quite know what they want out of life. But they know there is virtue in the journey.

With so many characters - I haven't even mentioned Kevin Hart's soon-to-be divorced motor-mouth, who gives the single guys some pretty silly advice from time to time - the film does drag on a bit in its last third, especially when you come to the realization that this all heading to your standard Hollywood happy ending. And sure enough, the couples line up one right after another for their apologies and their reconciliations after enduring their scripted complications.

The good news, each of the pairings in the film works. There's never the sense that "Oh, these two are boring. I can't wait 'til the movie cuts back to those other two." Smartly, the film also keeps somewhat of a balance in who's right and who's wrong. It's not just men screwing up. Henson's upwardly mobile ice queen is just a mess, and Malco's self-proclaimed gigolo and Good's bad girl trying to be good are both to blame when things go south.

"Think Like a Man" is neither ground-breaking nor is it anything close to a revelation. It's more content to spout obvious truths already known and in need of reinforcement. At the preview screening, there was a lot of knowing head shakes and couples pointing fingers at each other in the dark as the characters went through their romantic travails. It's a solid date movie, definitely one to watch until something better comes along. I give it a 6 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed April 18, 2012 / Posted April 20, 2012


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