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Think Like a Man (2012)
Think Like A Man is a 2012 comedy film written by Keith Merryman and David A. Newman and directed by Tim Story.
As part of his transition from an original King of Comedy to a satiric self-help guru, Steve Harvey has done the unthinkable. He's exposed the secrets to successful communication with men via undermining the overriding machismo of our paternalistic society...or something like that. His bestselling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man taught a nation of tired women how to work their belligerent beloveds, navigating the unsettled waters of commitment, consideration, and carousing. Now director Tim Story (Fantastic Four) and screenwriters Keith Marryman and David A. Newman (Friends with Benefits) have translated the tome into a randy RomCom featuring an all-star African-American cast. Far more fun than the awful He's Just Not That Into You, this feather-light confection may lack true insights, but it does offer a lot of heart -- and humor.
We meet five men, each with female trouble. Cedric (Kevin Hart) can't wait for his divorce to be final. Dominic (Michael Ealy) can't find someone who supports his often passionate pipe dreams. Zeke (Romany Malco) just wants the physical -- read: sex -- while Michael (Terrence J) is a weak-kneed momma's boy. And then there is Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) who's locked in a state of perpetual arrested adolescence. When the latter's long-suffering girlfriend Kristen (Gabrielle Union) stumbles across Harvey's book, she sees a way to make her fun-loving frat boy grow up. Suddenly, all the ladies in these men's lives -- the high powered COO Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), the single mother Candace (Regina Hall), and the reluctant beauty Mya (Meagan Good) -- are using the advice within its pages. When the guys find out what's happening, they decide to fight fire with fire.Think Like a Man is not some minor masterpiece. It's not a work of art that stands with the best the genre has to offer. Instead, it's a casual, comfortable romp which borrows heavily from both sides of the cultural divide. As with many movies geared toward the urban demographic, there is a tweaked Tyler Perry approach to the material, a clever combination of merriment and melodrama that's more hit than miss. We buy into the characters, are willing to watch as they fumble through their situations, and feel a bit misty when it looks like life will reward them accordingly. But Story and his scribes also understand the draw outside ethnicity, and that's where Hart comes in. A seasoned stand-up, he's a one man riffing machine, lacing every scene he's in with a kind of off the wall wackiness that turns even tired punchlines powerful.
But it's the gals who really shine here, each one arguing for a complexity Think Like a Man may not have anticipated. While the narrative is geared toward the guys (they have the major arcs), Union, Henson, Hall, and Good generate the necessary empathy. We can understand their frustrations, their individual failings and false hopes. By the time their men figure out that Harvey's book is to blame, we're invested. That makes the last act all the more potent. Even when we can see the plot machinations churning away, we wonder if happiness will find these deserving divas.
Alas, there are problematic points here and there. Terrence J's attachment to his mother is routine and ridiculous while an intriguing subplot involving Malco's previous career as a wannabe R&B singer is pushed aside unceremoniously. Still, for the sudden arrival of some unexpected sports cameos alone, the movie earns back a bit of its magic. In the complicated world of man/woman relationships, Harvey argues that he has all the answers. Luckily, the movie made from his ideas seems to confirm his comic point of view.