Thanks to a preview screening, I had a chance to see Think Like a Man Wednesday night. Loosely based on the Steve Harvey self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the movie is a predictable romantic comedy that makes heavy use of character stereotypes. Still, if you expect nothing more than a competent entrant in the genre, it’s enjoyable enough for an evening.
I haven’t read the book, but the film treats Harvey as a genius and the book as second only to the Bible as a source of received wisdom. Every so often, the movie stops dead so he can come on screen to tell us bits of advice, much of it based on reductive gender assumptions, along the lines of “men do this” and “women do that” with vague explanations referencing cavemen and DNA. From what I could tell, the book is similar to The Rules, telling women that they should play hard to get and manipulate men to make the guys into reliable marriage partners. There’s nothing wrong with advice that revolves around respecting yourself and being clear on what you really want, but I bristle at the idea that all male/female love relationships can be fixed by reading one pop-psych book.
Meagan Good and look! Product placement!
The film is based around six men who play basketball together. Three of the black guys and one of the white guys (who’s dating a black woman) are coupled up during the movie. The remaining black guy (Kevin Hart) is exaggerated comedy relief and the narrator; the remaining white guy (Gary Owen) is there just to be the happily married big dumb fella.
Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Gary Owen, Terrence J, Romany Malco, and Jerry Ferrara
The couples fall into these partnerships: a single mother (Regina Hall) and a mamma’s boy (Terrence J); a rich executive (Taraji P. Henson) and a guy who’s still trying to find the right job (Michael Ealy, very attractive); a geekboy still living like he’s in college (Jerry Ferrara, who’s lost some weight since Entourage and apparently reads Hellboy) and his live-in girlfriend who wants to finally get married (Gabrielle Union); and a player (Romany Malco) and a woman who’s decided not to sleep with a guy until they’ve been dating for three months (Meagan Good, whose character had horrible taste in earrings).
Gabrielle Union and Jerry Ferrara
Everyone is very attractive, which makes it nice to spend time with them even though you already know most everything that’s going to happen in their stories. I found the plot about the high-powered COO the most interesting, just because it’s rare that we see that struggle in media — whether a woman should expect to find a guy as smart and accomplished as she is, and how that becomes increasingly difficult the higher she rises in her career. Plus, I like Taraji P. Henson.
Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson
The predictability becomes even worse once events are presented as turning into a gender war, with the guys finding out that all the women are using the book to “manipulate” them. However, among its demographic audience, I suspect Think Like a Man will do quite well, since the line to attend the preview wrapped around the movie theater lobby twice, and almost 70 people didn’t get in. That indicates to me demand to see it.
Overall, Think Like a Man reminds me of He’s Just Not That Into You, another romance based on an advice book for women by men that tells women if only they did the “obvious” things and worked harder to understand men, everything would be as perfect as they dreamed. The various intertwining storylines mean everyone will find someone that reminds them of themselves or someone they know, and visually, there are plenty of attractive people making out and looking for love. It works as a date movie or a girls’ night out event.
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