So far as I can tell, the intended purpose of Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man was to give women relationship advice from a male perspective, which in turn would help them find the right man. While I have no opinion on his words of wisdom, I do have a thing or two to say about Think Like a Man, a film that injects Harvey’s book into the plot of a romantic comedy. Silly and uninspired, it doesn’t analyze his concepts in plausible, satisfying ways; instead, it applies them to manufactured vignettes in which the men are immature brats and the women are conniving and manipulative. There is no truth to any of the characters in this movie. They serve primarily as comedy relief, goofballs we’re made to laugh at instead of with.
Taking place in Los Angeles, the film is essentially a series of interconnected subplots, all examining relationships between specific categories of men and women. Steve Harvey makes continuous appearances on television screens in homes and bars with the specific purpose of promoting his book; the women, intrigued, all decide to buy a copy and apply whatever advice they glean to the men in their lives. At first, the men are thrown for a loop. Then one of them catches wind of what their women are doing, leading them to buy the book and attempt to beat them at their own game. And so we must wade through an implausible and childish battle of wits before reaching a conclusion so neatly gift-wrapped that it seems to have transplanted from a third-rate sitcom.
Here’s a run-down of the couples featured in this film. There’s a real-estate agent named Kristen (Gabrielle Union) and her boyfriend, Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), who still hasn’t popped the question after nine years of being with her. Not only is she eager to motivate him apply for a job he’s qualified for, she also wants him to stash his collection of sci-fi memorabilia so that she can redecorate to her heart’s content. This would include getting rid of his couch, which has a colorful history to say the least. There’s Mya (Meagan Good), who’s fed up with one-night stands and decides to try out Harvey’s ninety-day plan on her new boyfriend, Zeke (Romany Malco). This will not be easy for him; a smooth talker who knows all the good pickup lines, he’s an unapologetic lothario with nothing on his mind apart from sex.
There’s a caterer named Dominic (Michael Ealy), who’s known for his lofty dreams. His current dream is to be a chef, and indeed, he has a talent for cooking. Into his life enters Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), a powerful executive who wants a man with a six-figure income and his own sense of power. Desperate to impress her, Dominic tells her that he already is a chef and is deciding between two restaurant offers. And then there’s Candace (Regina Hall), a single mom and Lauren’s best friend. She starts dating a man named Michael (Terrence J), who’s domineered by his mother (Jenifer Lewis). Needless to say, no woman is good enough for her son, least of all a single mother. Incidentally, Candace’s son, while perhaps a little too inquisitive, gets along splendidly with Michael.
Serving as both narrator and the annoying fifth guy character is Cedric (Kevin Hart), who spends most of the film acting like a fool and mooching off of Zeke. He’s in the process of finalizing his divorce from his mostly unseen wife, and claims to be all the better for it. All five guys are friends and spend most of their time either in a bar or on a basketball court, where (you guessed it) they waste much of their energy complaining about the women in their lives. Tagging along is a superfluous man played by comedian Gary Owen, who serves no real purpose other than to be the butt of PG-13-appropriate racial slurs. There’s even time for completely unnecessary cameo appearances by NBA players Metta World Peace, Shannon Brown, and Matt Barnes. Former WNBA player Lisa Leslie joins them as they successfully emasculate the main stars in a basketball game.
You know me. I’m usually the first to let a romantic comedy slide, simply because I accept them as nothing more than fantasy. But in this case, something went wrong. Think Like a Man regards genuine relationship advice as fodder for a series of inane jokes. The characters are so shallow, it’s as if writers Keith Marryman and David A. Newman know absolutely nothing about men or women. For all I know, maybe they truly don’t. Whenever Harvey appears on one of the many conveniently placed television sets, he always gives a piece of advice; each one had the potential to be applied to a complex and thought-provoking vignette, one in which the characters have a bit more depth to them. How sad that his book served as the basis for a film that shows no interest in real relationships.
Written by Chris Pandolfi