Saturday, April 28, 2012

THINK LIKE A MAN (2012)

Written by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman


Directed by Tim Story


When & Where : Arclight Cinemas, Pasadena, CA.  April 20, 2012  9:00PM


Men and women have been struggling to understand each other since dinosaurs roamed the planet without a viable solution in sight. You would think they might stop agonizing over this hopeless inquiry but people (I believe mostly women) are determined to figure each other out.

There seem to be an endless glut of people who claim to have all the answers on how to solve this dilemma and all you have to do is buy their book. The latest entry is by comedian, Steve Harvey and his self-help tome, "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man" with some feeling that he has betrayed his gender by giving away the secret of our motivations and teaching women how to read between the lines of what men are actually telling them. This New York Times bestseller has been turned in to a serviceable romantic comedy under the shorter title, "Think Like A Man" which brings to life examples of  how this book could possibly work for you..

We first meet the men, a bunch of buddies who are broken down by some typical male types; Dominic (Michael Ealy) is "The Dreamer", a man who wants to open his own restaurant but isn't even close as he's still waiting tables. "The Non-Committer" (Jerry Ferrara) has been involved with his girlfriend (Gabrielle Union) for years but putting a ring on her finger is the furthest thing from his mind. Michael (Terrence J.) is the classic "Mama's Boy" who wants a girl just like his mama except the real deal (Jenifer Lewis) is never too far behind. There's always "The Player" in any group and that's Zeke (Romany Malco) whose ability with smooth pillow talk makes his quest to score with the ladies much easier. Rounding out this gang are the married guys; one happily (Gary Owen) and the other (Kevin Hart) who can't get divorced soon enough.

Their ladies, which include the sexy, Mya (Meagan Good) who wants to be more than a one-night stand for Zeke by holding out for ninety days before being intimate and Candance (Regina Hall), a single mother dating Michael but has no interest in competing with his mother for his affections, are frustrated by their prospective mates until they discover Mr. Harvey's book. They begin following his wisdom and start to have great success in handling the men.

However, Candance's good friend, Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) thinks the book is just nonsense. She's a successful businesswoman who is looking for a good man that is her equal and has no desire to settle for less. Due to a case of mistaken identity, Lauren accepts a date with the underemployed Dominic and the sparks fly. Dominic wants to confess his true profession to her but decides to listen to the guys and postpone the news. When the men later get wind of this advice book, they decide to use it to their advantage.

The plot predictably follows the standard rom-com guideline but with this rare occurrence of a Hollywood film focusing on a mostly African-American prospective on love and relationships, "Think" feels fresher than it would under different circumstances. Love is most certainly color-blind but I think we've already seen enough numerous cinematic variations of romance with Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon or Matthew McConaughey in the lead. The script is strictly rote that offers no subtly or shading to make any of these characters anything more than stereotypes but these terrific actors certainly help elevate this material

In fact, the best thing about "Think Like A Man" is that it's a great showcase to display the gifts of these African-American performers who don't get nearly enough opportunities to show what they are capable of delivering. Ms Hanson, in particular, is a crackerjack comedienne who can skillfully go from tough to tender and make it all very amusing. If there is any justice, the film will hopefully lead this actress to plenty of other big-screen roles. Mr. Hart, who appears to be a graduate of the Chris Tucker School of Comedic Performance, can be quite hilarious as he offers his own opinions about relationships (and may also explain why he's heading to Divorce Court) although his loud, motor-mouth routine can grow a little tiresome by the end.

Although there's way too much shameless plugging of Mr. Harvey's book for my taste which makes the film feel more like an infomercial but "Think Like A Man" is still an enjoyable little comedy. It offers what you would typically expect from a romantic-comedy with appealing performances and some solid laughs.