- Running time:
- 122 minutes
- Michael Ealy -
- Jerry Ferrara -
- Meagan Good -
- Regina Hall -
- Kevin Hart -
Love is a battlefield, or at least a skirmish-prone zone where strategic maneuvers must be deployed, according to Think Like a Man (* * ½ out of four, rated PG-13, opens Friday nationwide).
Based on Steve Harvey's humorous, man-baiting book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the film not only plunks men and women on different pages, but essentially has them consulting conflicting instruction manuals.
Intended to empower women, the 2009 book — which is referred to so often it feels like product placement — seeks to enlighten them about how men's minds work.
In a scene that feels forced and oddly dated, women line up to get their copies with unbridled excitement. Montages feature droves of women who are madly eager to learn the secrets of how men think. They are told that to find love, they need to delay sex. No matter that it makes romance seem like a business transaction. The point is clear: Follow these steps, and you'll get the best return on your investment.
While the outcomes of the individual romances portrayed are fairly predictable, the chemistry among the cast members makes this more entertaining than most ensemble rom-coms. A group of women vows to adhere to their sisterly scriptures no matter what temptations they face, and their multiple stories — with each person representing a different type with a capital T — intertwine.
There's Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), the high-powered businesswoman intent on landing someone equally successful. She meets a handsome guy driving a Porsche and takes him for the man of her dreams. He turns out to be sensitive but broke Dominic (Michael Ealy), a struggling chef with big dreams and a day job as a valet.
Mya (Meagan Good) is intent on making suave player Zeke (Romany Malco) wait the Harvey-recommended three months before consummating their relationship.
Kristen (Gabrielle Union) seeks maturity and commitment for her overgrown adolescent of a longtime boyfriend, Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara). She has put up with his fanboy ways for years, and after reading Harvey, she embarks on whipping Jeremy into a grown man.
Single mother Candace (Regina Hall) is thrilled to have met Michael (Terrence Jenkins), a wonderful guy who bonds with her young son. But she's no fan of his slavish devotion to his mother.
When the guys, all buddies, figure out that they're being manipulated, they turn to Harvey's book to outsmart their women. Of course, the table-turning and double-crossing doesn't stop there.
The execution is not always clever, particularly as the stories tie up all too neatly. Gender politics, however, is presented with breezy humor, and the cast is amiable across the board. Director Tim Story draws on the talent he displayed in witty ensemble comedies such as 2002's Barbershop.
Even though Think Like a Man espouses something akin to the philosophy in Beyoncé's Single Ladies(Put a Ring on It), it makes manipulation more fun than it ought to be.
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