Movie Review - Think Like a Man

Meagan Good in "Think Like a Man"
I can't think of another movie based on a book that heavily references that book in the movie itself. The book is constantly brought up in conversation. Author and comedian Steve Harvey must be happy because his book is mentioned in practically every scene. The writer is revered for the most part. His book is made to be the end all and be all for relationship advice for women. The movie revolves around a group of women, four in fact who use the book to manipulate the men they meet to do or be what they want. The tables turn, however, and it provides for some interesting counter points.

Probably because it is all about relationships, because it features a comedic narrator and because it stars Jerry Ferrara, this movie is like Sex and the City meets Entourage. Only, it's literally a combination of both those shows, except it ultimately favors the men, but there is a nice, slight balance. The only thing for which the scale tips is toward the fact that it's predominantly an African-American cast. All of whom are gorgeous. All of whom are hilarious.

It helps that the screenplay is very funny, aided by Kevin Hart who plays Cedric, the happily divorced man and narrator of the movie. Kevin Hart might not be a household name, but Hart is a black, stand-up comedian who has developed a strong following. Hart's independent movie Laugh at My Pain (2011) was the most successful, independent movie the year of its release.

I wouldn't be surprised if Hart, who does get the majority of the laughs here and who is a scene-stealer every time, improvised his material in this movie. I wouldn't be surprised if Hart were cast in this role to be someone who has that freedom to add or inject his own brand of humor into this story. At times, that tactic can fail, but Hart is amazing and perfectly used. He's funny.

I haven't done much research in this point, but I'm sure there's probably a history of authors appearing in movies that are adapted from or based on the authors' books. Stephanie Meyer who wrote the book that inspired the blockbuster movie Twilight has a brief cameo in it. Davy Rothbart has a small part in Easier With Practice (2009) and he wrote the magazine article that spawned it. The makers of the documentary Freakonomics (2010) interviewed Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, the writers of the book of the same name. Stan Lee, the creator of a ton of Marvel comics, appears in many of the recent Marvel films like Spider-Man (2002).

Those appearances are never that long and are usually never integral or important to the movie's story. Steve Harvey's appearance here is opposite. He plays himself and his cameo actually is integral and important to the film's plot. Sherri Shepherd (Precious and One for the Money) briefly plays an Oprah-like talk show host named Vicki who has Harvey on her show to chat about his book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," which offers advice to women by revealing the so-called secrets and tactics of men in relationships.

Throughout the movie, we keep referring back to Harvey as he basically quotes his book, giving us the major points of it. Screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman share credit for this movie, as they did for Friends With Benefits (2011), and create characters that embody Harvey's points, characters that exemplify them, perhaps too much so. Yet, the performances are so charming and laughing that I forgave it. The characters created are archetypes or stereotypes, male archetypes as well as female archetypes. Obviously, none of these types are new, but the movie plays off the familiarity and plays off it well.

The first male archetype we see is "The Player" who in this case is Zeke, played by Romany Malco. Zeke is the quintessential ladies man and he's all about having sex with women and that's it, not forming relationships or being in love. Things change when he meets Mya, played by Meagan Good. Mya reads Harvey's book and uses his advice of "the 90-day rule," which is denying Zeke sex for 90 days.

The second male archetype is "The Mama's Boy" who's called Michael, played by Terrence Jenkins. Michael's mama is Loretta, played by Jenifer Lewis. She has a day carved out that's just for them where she cooks for him and they play games. He doesn't live with her but it's obvious that he still very much depends on her, as she dotes and practically controls him. Michael meets Candace, played by Regina Hall at a bookstore, and they hit it off immediately. Candace is the second female archetype. She's a "Single Mom."

Another male archetype is "The Non-Committer." This type is Jeremy, played by Jerry Ferrara. For nine years, he has been in a relationship with Kristen, played by Gabrielle Union. Kristen is another female archetype, referred to as the girl who wants the ring. For nine years, she's waited for Jeremy to propose to her but he's more obsessed with video games and his bong and living like a perpetual child than he is settling down with her and having an actual child of his own.

Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson
in "Think Like a Man"
The final archetype is "The Dreamer" who is Dominic, played by Michael Ealy. He's a cook but works most days as a waiter at fancy functions. He meets Lauren, played by Taraji P. Henson. She's the last female archetype here, "the girl who's her own man." She's successful and exhibits behavior that makes her intimidating and perhaps emasculating to potential suitors. She also insists that her potential suitor be a bit more ambitious than just being a waitor.

Looking at the filmography of each actor here. It was funny seeing all the connections and crossovers. The director of this movie is Tim Story who is the man behind Fantastic Four (2005). He also famously directed the African-American comedy Barbershop (2002). Michael Ealy who plays Dominic here also co-starred in Barbershop. He also played in the CBS series The Good Wife. Romany Malco did three episodes of The Good Wife. Malco was also part of the critically-acclaimed comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin, which briefly featured Kevin Hart who plays Cedric here. Hart was in Scary Movie 3. Regina Hall is best known for her role in Scary Movie. She was also in First Sunday, which was directed by Tim Story. Story also directed Hurricane Season (2009), featuring Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson who plays Lauren here. She was in Not Easily Broken, co-starring Morris Chestnut who has a small role here.Kevin Hart was also in Not Easily Broken, and a year or so after that Hart starred in 35 and Ticking featuring Meagan Good who plays Mya here. Good did an episode of The Steve Harvey Show, which also had Gabrielle Union in an episode.

Terrence Jenkins who plays Michael is the only one who's not linked in the six-degrees-of-separation cast. He's relatively new to acting. Since 2006, he has been the host of BET's 106 & Park. While the wild card is Chris Brown who based on his recent reputation is well placed in this movie. Brown's only scenes in this movie are with Meagan Good who shared a credit with him in Stomp the Yard. Brown also shared a movie credit with Michael Ealy in Takers. All those actors are linked. They know each other and are probably friends in real life. Their chemistry with one another feels selfsame. I liked it.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor and drug use.
Running Time: 2 hrs.


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