Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Think Like a Man

I just finished watching Think Like a Man and I feel like I just watched a two-hour infomercial for Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.”  So much so that when the credits started rolling I fully expected Vince Offer to stroll onscreen rockin’ a headset to try and sell me both a Sham Wow and a Slap Chop in some two-for-one deal.  Sure, the movie was based off the book, but that doesn’t mean it had to show up in every other scene.  I haven’t seen that kind of egregious product placement since Wayne and Garth vowed not to bow to any sponsors.  Unfortunately, this is not the only problem in what could have been an entertaining movie.

Think Like a Man is one of those movies that has fifty-five different plot lines acted out by a huge ensemble cast, though it’s not as egregious in this offense as some other movies are (New Year’s Eve).  This film has a bit more flow and symmetry and the characters’ lives are more interconnected as a battle of the sexes is waged with Steve Harvey’s book as not only the catalyst, but also the playbook.

The first problem with the film is that it is nothing but the same old thing we have seen a countless number of times, but only done worse.  The women want to enter into serious relationships, while the men kick and scream like children being led to the dentist chair.  To make matters worse, each of the ten principle characters (yes, ten!) are nothing more than stereotypical archetypes (the player, the mama’s boy, the single mom, the gold digger, et al) upon which RomComs are built.  And because there are so many story lines unfolding, no one character is fleshed out enough to become anything more than a tired cliché. 

The second problem with the film is that it hedges its bet.  The movie is clearly geared towards women and surely you must have known long before you even decided to read this review that the movie’s fifty-five endings will all be tied up in a neat bow.  However, while all this is unfolding, director Tim Story and his creative team try to hedge their bet by pandering to the male audience with a certain brand of buddy humor.  There are circumstances in which this can work – those rare films with a little something for everyone, but in this movie it feels like each time the plot twists, one segment of the audience is left alienated and thus by the end no one really feels satisfied.

As for the cast, there are too many to address individually, but since this movie is drawn along gender lines, I will follow suit and do the same.  Of the two, I found that collectively the male half of the cast out performed their female counterparts.  They had the advantage of being connected to one another in the film and it is in precisely those moments where the men as a group excel by displaying a witty repartee that is both funny and authentic.  The women, on the other hand, are for the most part isolated and saddled with roles that are stuck in the clichés that define their respective characters and this leaves their collective performances feeling a bit hollow. 

Despite some of these issues, I don’t want to frame this movie as one void of entertaining qualities.  There are some genuinely funny scenes and moments that are universally relatable, but unfortunately, many of those moments feel generic and lack candid insight.  Needless to say, I am not super-enthusiastic about this movie, but I don’t lament watching it the way I do so many others (The Three Stooges readily comes to mind).  As a rental, there is some value here with one or two laugh out loud moments, though by the third act most will find themselves waiting for things to wrap up.  If you do decided to watch it, do so with your significant other on a slow night and just maybe it will spark and old memory that the two of you can chuckle over.  Just don’t expect to find any life altering insights into the battle of men v. women.

Good Performances: Romany Malco, Jerry Ferrara (you’ll always be Turtle), Kevin Hart (a bit over the top), Terrence Jenkins, and Jennifer Lewis

Standout Performance: As I was watching the movie, I kept thinking: this would be the perfect movie for Morris Chestnut circa 2004 and lo and behold, he appears.  Kudos to his character for referring to Warren Buffett as “Dub Beezy.”


Post a Comment