Think Like a Man (2012)
Starring Gabrielle Union, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson
Featuring Steve Harvey, Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland
Directed by Tim Story
Think Like a Man is the latest offering in the newly minted “advice book adaptations” trend springing up in Hollywood (He’s Just Not That Into You, What to Expect When You’re Expecting). Not only did this film fly past Zac Efron and The Lucky One at the box office, it is a surprisingly refreshing take on an age old game of the Battle of the Sexes. Finally a clever rom com to sink my ChickFlicking teeth into.
Based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the story is set up as a series of interwoven cage matches between Harvey’s male and female archetypes: The Mama’s Boy vs. The Single Mom, The Dreamer vs. The Woman Who is Her Own Man, The Player vs. The 90-Day-Rule Girl, The Non-Commiter vs. The Girl Who Wants the Ring. Plus, we’ve got our narrator, the militantly happy Divorced Guy (comedian Kevin Hart), and his foil the Happily Married Family Man (comedian Gary Owen) adding their own color commentary to the proceedings.
Our ladies have got their hands on Harvey’s book and have successfully re-framed the male-female dynamic until the men figure things out and hunt down their own copy of the book in a bid to wrest back control. Shenanigans ensue, and with sharp witty dialogue and social observations too!
Referring back to my four point rating system, Think Like a Man delivers the goods for the most part. All four couplings were well realized, and the audience can see the appeal for each man and woman in love – a rare feat. For the most part, the romantic foibles and entanglements ring true, all except the over the top Momma interfering in our Momma’s Boy vs. Single Mom relationship. And it was this last scenario that also posed the most contrived drama, coming close to rendering at least one half of the couple completely unlikeable. One suspects the slightly too long run time of this film, which clocks in at just over two hours, could have benefited from tightening up the manufactured angst for these two as well as some judicious trimming of our verbose narration.
There have been some unfair labels attached to this film. Yes, the cast is largely African American, but unlike most Hollywood films these characters don’t exist in a monochromatic world, and the relationship scenarios that unfold are universal in their appeal. As proposals are made and accepted, and declarations of love are made and received, the film doesn’t disappoint on the emotion meter and most surprising of all, one does not feel that either sex has won the upper hand. A meeting of the minds? Possible!
Emotional Investment 4/5 Authenticity 3.5/5 Chemistry 4/5 Contrivance 2/5