Let the Mind Games Begin
RATED: ★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5 buckets
Rated: PG-13 Sexual content, some crude humor and brief drug use
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Runtime: 2 hrs 0 mins
Director: Tim Story
Writers: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, from the novel "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" by Steve Harvey
SYNOPSIS: Four friends conspire to turn the tables on their women when they discover the ladies have been using Steve Harvey's relationship advice against them.
REVIEW: Tim Story, probably best known for the Ioan Gruffudd Fantastic Four films and Barbershop, takes a story from Friends with Benefits screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman from the Steve Harvey's book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man". Navigating the choppy waters of romance is difficult enough without slipping all of a man's secrets to the 'enemy'.
A group of six men stand at different crossroads on the same path of romance and relationships. Dominic (Michael Ealy, Underworld: Awakenings) is the 'dreamer', working as a chef and valet in the pursuit of owning his own restaurant. Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara,Entourage) is the guy in a committed long-standing relationship with Kristen (Gabrielle Union, Good Deeds) who does not want to grow up or actually commit to Kristen in marriage. Zeke (Romany Malco, Blades of Glory) ventures out and trolls the bars as the 'player', worrying more about getting the nookie without the relationship than getting the relationship without the nookie. Michael (Terrance Jenkins, Burlesque) is the 'mama's boy', unable to find a girl that lives up to her mother Loretta's (Jenifer Lewis, The Princess and the Frog) standards. Bennett (Gary Owen, House of Payne) is the 'happily married man' and Cedric (Kevin Hart, Little Fockers) is the soon-to-be-divorced man desperate to get away from his wife and start a new life of freedom.
During a valet shift Michael meets successful executive Lauren (Taraji P. Henson, Date Night), unintentionally meeting her under the guise of being wealthy himself. Michael stumbles across single mom Candace (Regina Hall, Law Abiding Citizen) at a bookstore and has an instant attraction to the girl he knew from high school. Mya (Meagan Good, Jumping the Broom), fresh off of a series of bad relationships and one-night stands encounters Zeke at the bar, giving him a chance on a date with the caveat that she wants to be treated with chivalry and respect before venturing into intimacy with him. All of the women in these men's lives have recently come across a best-selling book by Steve Harvey entitled 'Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man', giving them an unfair advantage on the battlefield of romance with understanding the mindset of a man.
Because of Steve Harvey's book, a real book by the real comedian who plays himself in the film, all of the men in Think Life a Man are unprepared to deal with women who start to understand how the male mind works. Along the way, each man struggles with the woman he is trying to get close to - with hilarious effect. Kristen starts to subtly push Jeremy to grow up and truly commit to her. Candace looks to get Michael to make her and her son a higher priority than Michael's mother. Mya institutes a secret 90-day rule to vet out Zeke's intentions for a relationship. And Lauren tries to overlook Dominic's financial shortcomings and dreamy aspirations, even though she is looking for her equal.
Steve Harvey's book turned film is a funny, real look at the differences between men and women. For as many couples navigating the roads of romance, there are as many different perspectives coming into the relationship. Marriage versus a stable non-institution relationship, one-night stands versus a deeper intellectual relationship, high aspirations versus blind romance. Every person has an expectation for themselves and their significant other, and more often than not those expectations are not in concert between the couple.
The romantic angst is real, and comedy is funny. Kevin Hart as Cedric is the stand out and the scene stealer as the outsider looking in on all of his pals' relationships. As the only one anxious to get his post-divorce groove on, he offers each of them hilarious commentary about what they should do for their own dilemmas. And when he gets them down to the Y for their weekly basketball game, he is a comedic force to be reckoned with. What he lacks in stature he makes up in laughable tenacity. The rest of the cast may witty comedic chops, but Hart is the superstar in this outing.
Besides the stand out Kevin Hart, the rest of the cast is also stellar. Each plays their part to a tee, learning along the way that compromise and enlightenment may be the key to ultimate happiness. With so many plot threads, you would think the film would feel heavy or rushed. Director Tim Story makes maximum use of the 123 minutes to keep each relationship humming along, anchored by the guys' scheduled bar nights, basketball games, and Hart's Cedric's narrative.
Think Like a Man s a funny, crazy look at the funny, crazy world that embodies dating and relationships. With Steve Harvey dispensing relationship advice from big screen televisions and Kevin Hart keeping us all on the right track, the movie will make you laugh out loud and be thankful of the stable relationships you are in at the moment.
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