Movie Review: Think Like a Man
Length: 122 minutes
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Directed by: Tim Story
Stars: 2 out of 5
"Think Like a Man" is a comedy based on comedian Steve Harvey's book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man." Although the movie occasionally feels more like an advertisement for the book than a true cinematic experience, it is an enjoyable date-night option.
The story centers around a group of 30-something men, all established in their lives and dating successful women. But something is afoot-all of the women are taking advice from Harvey's book and using it to guide the direction of their relationships. When the men discover the extent to which Harvey's book is impacting their romantic lives, they turn the tables with schemes of their own. The movie wraps up with pleasant, though predictable, conclusions to each individual storyline.
Each major character represents one of the "types" listed in Harvey's book, from the Player to the Dreamer. Despite the somewhat tired premise, the ensemble cast of talented actors elevates the story. The film stars a number of well-known actors, including Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Terrence J, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Romany Malco and Jerry Ferrara. The sheer star power and beauty of the cast is enough to carry viewers pleasantly through the movie. Gabrielle Union, who plays marriage-minded Kristen, manages to convey a surprising amount of emotional depth, considering the material she has to work with. Her superior acting talent shines in the already charismatic cast, bringing a so-so script to another level. Taraji P. Henson also stands out as Lauren, who cannot reconcile her need for the finer things with her love for a struggling chef (Michael Ealy). With their combined talents, the cast gives depth and passion to the predictable romantic comedy plot. Audiences will delight at the chemistry between the different couples.
Harvey's self-help book is an omnipresent force in "Think Like a Man." It is the impetus behind the action in the plot and a constant companion for the actors. The characters obsess over its wisdom, pass it around to friends and discuss it at length. At times, the movie appears to be nothing more than a commercial for the book, making audiences feel slightly uncomfortable. The result is an oversaturation of product placement; viewers may feel cheated out of a true movie-going experience. Unlike other movies that were based on books, like "He's Just Not That Into You," Harvey's book does not have a standout premise to lend a touch of originality to the plot.
Despite the overbearing book promotion, screenplay writers Keith Merryman and David A. Newman managed to create a passably touching story. They created characters that are more than the traditional romantic comedy standbys, breathing a bit of unexpected fire into stereotypical male and female roles. The women in "Think Like a Man" might want to get married, but it is not their sole ambition-quite the opposite. The female roles are strong, empowered and motivated. Merryman and Newman, who also wrote the unexpected romantic comedy, "Friends With Benefits," demonstrate considerable skill. Their love for the characters is apparent throughout the film.
The supporting characters complete the film. Gary Owen provides a hopeful touch to the film in his role as a happily married man, creating a believable relationship that is strong and passionate in the face of adversity. Kevin Hart, who plays a recently divorced man, offers moments of levity in the midst of overly serious scenes. His boundless energy and excellent comedic timing keep the story moving; he adds light to many dragging scenes and infuses the movie with excitement.
Director Tim Story makes the most of his attractive cast, turning "Think Like a Man" into a pleasing visual spectacle. His use of lighting shows the actors at their best, whether they are arguing passionately or sharing romantic moments. The close-up shots capture the full range of emotion from the cast. The camera work and editing ensure that Gabrielle Union's subtle facial expressions are not lost in the larger picture.
Overall, "Think Like a Man" is a reasonably enjoyable movie, particularly for a date night or an evening out with the girls. The cast sparkles with spirit and attractiveness, and the banter makes for several laugh-out-loud moments. Viewers will have no trouble guessing the outcome of each individual relationship storyline. Rather than take away from the experience, however, the predictability creates a sense of comfort. Instead of sitting on the edge of their seats, audiences can sit back and enjoy the spirited interactions between characters.