Review: Think Like a Man Too
PLOT: The sequel to the successful film inspired by Steve Harvey's book, the couples from the last one are back, this time planning a wedding in Las Vegas and getting into trouble.
REVIEW: PG-13-rated fun in Las Vegas can only go so far, as THINK LIKE A MAN TOO proves time and time again. A toothless comedy aiming to barely break even on the entertainment budget, the film merely exists to live off the goodwill of its title, its predecessor, and the Steve Harvey book that inspired both. This movie skips the book and first movie's moralizing and product placement, for the most part, in order to give us a tired "raucous" Vegas party which rehashes the same old tropes and lessons every flick set there does. It has a harmless, carefree attitude that works in its favor sometimes, but for the most part THINK LIKE A MAN TOO has absolutely zero to offer us in terms of entertainment or message.
The scenario involves the wedding of Michael (Terrance J.) and Candace (Regina Hall), two likable, unexceptional people who bring their respective guys and gals to Sin City for a couple days of raucous fun. This is a very large cast, so there are a lot of characters, and to help guide us through all of their trivial relationship issues is Cedric (Kevin Hart) - who acts as narrator as well as scenery-chewing best man. Because the cast is so large, each couple gets a brief "issue" that will ultimately be resolved in the most predictable, unrealistic way possible: Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union) are kinda-sorta planning on having a baby, but he's scared of giving up his stoner lifestyle; Zeke (Romany Malco) and May (Meagan Good) are trying to get past his "playa" days; Dominic (Michael Ealy) and Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) are balancing their work lives with their personal lives, but both have job opportunities that could see them moving in different directions. Etc. Meanwhile, Cedric is trying to be the best best man possible, spending money he doesn't have and fighting with an ex who still henpecks him from afar.
The movie attempts to balance out those scant story-lines with zany Vegas antics, like bar fights and trips to jail, none of which provide any novelty or feeling of danger; everything is incredibly safe. Even ingesting a mega-dose of marijuana and walking into a strip club is played off as the most harmless of events. Surely, an indiscriminate crowd will chuckle at the easy-going hijinks, but where's the joy in watching a movie toss softball after softball without ever actually going for broke? The cutesy approach only works for so long, especially when any drama worth investing in is nonexistent. (Do you think every couple will find a happy middle ground in the end??) There's even an avoidance of paying off its own jokes: one sequence sets up a MAGIC MIKE-esque strip number for the guys to participate in, and then drops it in favor of an unrelated scuffle. At least follow through, movie!
Of course, a few dorky white people are added to poke fun at, to no avail. Bennett (Gary Owen) and Wendi McLendon-Covey are uptight and goofy - he even wears a fannypack! - but director Tim Story and writers Keith Merryman and David A. Newman come up with almost nothing for them to actually do other than just stand around and occasionally be the butt of a joke. For some reason I still can't understand, Adam Brody eventually shows up as a former frat brother of the groom's, but his character is so incidental he might not even be there.
The audience I saw THINK LIKE A MAN TOO seemed to enjoy it very much, and perhaps it's the movie's clean, uncontroversial approach to these life matters that makes it appealing. The cast is very pleasant to look at and they go through their motions, but it often feels as if they're just wallowing in a muddy, mediocre script, begging for some kind of rescue. (I'm sure they had a better time hanging out in Vegas than their characters did.)
My love/hate relationship with Kevin Hart is complicated here. (For those keeping score, I disliked RIDE ALONG, but I really enjoyed Hart's scenes in ABOUT LAST NIGHT.) The actor's ceaseless energy proves to be a boon for the lifeless movie, but it also can't help but become irritating; every line-reading is the same, every moment is amped up to 11. Watching Hart take over a scene - and he hijacks every scene he's present for - is like watching a sugar-high kid go on and on about the same thing. Cute at first, exhausting as you realize it'll never stop.