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"THINK LIKE A MAN TOO"
(2014) (Kevin Hart, Regina Hall) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A large group of male and female friends assemble in Vegas for a wedding and get into all sorts of misadventures the night before the nuptials.
PLOT:
Six male friends and six female friends -- some of whom are married, others who are involved in relationships -- assemble in Las Vegas to attend the wedding of Michael (TERRENCE JENKINS) and Candace (REGINA HALL). Michael, though, has accidentally named the motor-mouthed, hyper-intense Cedric (KEVIN HART) as his best man, and Cedric goes overboard in trying to plan the greatest bachelor party ever. He even books a $40,000-a-night hotel suite, thinking it's $4,000 a night, that comes with a butler named Declan (JIM PIDDOCK). Meanwhile, Michael's overbearing mother, Loretta (JENIFER LEWIS) causes friction by trying to control everything from the female side, and she still doesn't approve of single-mother Candace as a worthy daughter-in-law.

Throughout the night, the various couples work through long-simmering issues. Blue-collar cook Dominic (MICHAEL EALY) is offered a chef position in Vegas that could launch his culinary career. But he considers turning it down because his lover, business executive Lauren (TARAJI P. HENSON), would never want to leave her company in Los Angeles ... until he learns she has secretly accepted a new executive position in New York City. Zeke (ROMANY MALCO), meanwhile, can't seem to live down his long-standing reputation as ladies man "Zeke the Freak," as he tries to convince Mya (MEAGAN GOOD) that he is ready for a committed relationship.

Jeremy (JERRY FERRARA) is sufficiently freaked out that his wife, Kristen (GABRIELLE UNION), has him on a "sex schedule" in an effort to become pregnant. Jeremy isn't even sure he is ready to be a father. For their part, Bennett (GARY OWEN) and Tish (WENDI McLENDON-COVEY) have been married 15 years and have kids. Their idea of fun in Vegas -- playing slot machines, going to see the "Jersey Boys" stage musical, etc. -- clashes with the more wild ideas of the group. Matters become even more complicated when Michael's two fraternity brothers, Isaac (ADAM BRODY) and Terrell (DAVID WALTON), show up to party and when Candace's smooth Uncle Eddie (DENNIS HAYSBERT) arrives to distract Loretta.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
If you thought the first "Think Like a Man" movie had too many characters ... oh, boy! Wait 'til you see the sequel! Actually, you can wait to see it. Let's be clear about that upfront. It's not a good movie. But, wow, what a HUGE ensemble. Not only do you have all six main male characters from the original movie and all six main female characters, but screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman also bring back one overbearing mother-in-law and add in two hard-partying fraternity brothers, a smooth-talking uncle on the make, and a British butler.

They all fight for screen time. But nobody fights harder than Kevin Hart, who has emerged as a box-office star in the wake of the surprise hit "Ride Along" from earlier in the year. Hart's Cedric will not be denied the camera, the microphone, the on-set lights, and any bit of dialogue edited out from any of the other characters. His Cedric is the best man here, and the dude basically blasts through nearly every scene he is in like the Tasmanian Devil from the old Warner Bros. cartoons. Twice, he literally has to be restrained physically in scenes because he takes his hysterics too far. And, at least twice, someone in the cast has to basically tell him, "Calm down!"

"Think Like a Man Too" is a Vegas romp that will seem like way, WAY familiar ground to anyone who sat through "Last Vegas," "When in Vegas," "Honeymoon in Vegas," and all six-plus hours of "The Hangover" trilogy. There's really not much of a movie here. It's just a dozen friends assembled in Sin City. The guys hit the town for a bachelor party involving the usual boozing, gambling, and clubbing. And the ladies hit the town for a bachelorette party involving the usual boozing and clubbing, albeit with some salon time. Eventually, the two sides collide.

To be fair, each couple has a sort of dilemma that has to be solved by the end of the night. Dominic (Michael Ealy) and Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) once again are working through career issues that could keep them apart. Zeke (Romany Malco) is trying to live down his ladies man image as he tries to convince Mya (Megan Good) he is ready to settle down. Groom-to-be Michael (Terrence Jenkins) once again has to overcome his overbearing mother, who despises his bride-to-be Candace (Regina Hall).

Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), meanwhile, has been put on a sex schedule by his wife, Kristen (Gabrielle Union), so they can conceive a child and he is shaking in his boots at the prospect of being a father. And Bennett (Gary Owen) and his wife, Tish (Wendi McLendon-Covey)? Well, they're just a couple of square, white people who need to get their freak on.

Because the film is so jam-packed with characters, each of these subplots gets about 8 to 10 minutes total screen time to be presented, complicated, and then resolved. It's all very simplistic and pretty dull, made even more obvious by Hart's narration in which he likens everything that happens in each of the relationships to basketball using clichés heard every night on SportsCenter during NBA season ("It's the second-quarter and the women were putting on a full-court press" and so forth). And when Hart is not likening everything to air balls and buzzer beaters, he's basically screaming and hollering at his costars that "We're in Vegas!!! What's wrong with y'all?! We're supposed to be having more fun than this!!!" Indeed.

Now, I'm not a complete curmudgeon when it comes to this flick. I did indeed give a positive review to the first movie, and the characters here all remain very likable. And you can't put so many legitimately funny people into one movie and not have some big laughs. The ladies, for a change, get the film's funniest standout sequence -- a raucous lip-synch of Bell Biv DeVoe's early '90s hit "Poison" complete with cameos by Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins. Later in the flick, a brawl at a strip club leads to some of the year's funniest physical hijinks and a flat-out great sight gag involving mug shots of the cast.

These moments are spread too thin throughout, though. The whole thing feels like it was a vacation for the huge cast. Ugh. Should I use a Vegas/gambling cliché here to wrap up? Nah. Better to just tell you to "think like a consumer" and save your cinema money for a better flick. I give this a 4 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed June 17, 2014 / Posted June 20, 2014


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