It’s always frustrating to me that there are so few romance/comedy films these days with a majority black cast. And then those that do get made are almost always of the buffoonish, clownish nature. I know Tyler Perry has his legions of fans, but he doesn’t need to be the sole voice of black cinema comedy. That’d be like Adam Sandler being the only mainstream actor to make comedies.
Last year’s “Jumping the Broom” was a very pleasant surprise filled with relate able, genuine and funny characters that didn’t have to do something so silly it would only happen in a movie. It’s taken nearly a year, but “Think Like a Man” finally offers fans of quality black comedies a new reason to go to the theater again.
The film is based on comedian/actor Steve Harvey’s popular 2009 book “Think Like a Man, Act Like a Lady,” on how women should change their game plan if they want to find happiness in their relationships. It’s the kind of premise ripe for a movie and hopefully signals the start of more books by black authors being made into movies.
This one focuses on friends in various stages of relationships. Cedric (Kevin Hart) is finalizing his divorce and telling everyone that he’s ecstatic about being single again. Zeke (Romany Malco) is a player who’s mastered the art of saying the right thing to sleep with any girl. Michael (Terrence Jenkins) is a momma’s boy ready to drop anything when his mother (Jenifer Lewis) calls. Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) is enjoying his long-term relationship with his college sweetheart Kristen (Gabrielle Union), who is anxiously waiting for him to propose. Dominic (Michael Ealy) would settle down, but his lack of career stability hurts him in the dating game. Only Bennett (Gary Owen) is content and happy to be married.
Mya (Megan Good) a nice girl who finds she can’t keep a guy after they finally sleep with her; Candace (Regina Hall), a single mother frustrated she can’t meet a guy who won’t run after hearing she’s already a parent; and Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) a demanding dater who won’t consider someone who isn’t at her professional level. For fun, see if you can match up who’ll end up with whom. Done that quick, huh?
All the females decide to make use of Harvey’s advice and find that (spoiler!) it actually works and the guys are becoming the men of their dreams until the guys get wise and try to turn the tables on their significant others.
After directing the two “Fantastic Four” films, Tim Story (“Barbershop”) makes a return to his specialty – funny, character-driven films that are never so outlandish that they’re not relatable.
He gives all the actors time to shine and reins in Hart just enough so he consistently gets the big laughs, but doesn’t become such an overwhelming presence onscreen that he overshadows his co-stars or wears out the audience since Cedric isn’t a pretty one-note, brash, obnoxious character.
Lauren and Dominic have the best subplot, as there’s enough substance and culture clash issues that they could have carried their own film.
Quality film or not, as a romantic comedy, “Think Like a Man” isn’t going to have some major twist at the end. Look at the promotional posters and you know exactly what’s going to happen by the end credits, but it’s still a lot of fun getting there. Now I can only hope it doesn’t take another year before we get another film like this that’s enjoyable for everyone.
Rating: 8 out of 10