It’s doubtful anyone expected that “Think Like a Man” would
be the hit that it was in 2012. Based on Steve Harvey’s kinda-sorta self-help
book titled “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” the movie featured a
great-looking and magnetic ensemble of actors and actresses in wacky,
hackneyed, battle-of-the-sexes scenarios. It grossed almost $100 million
worldwide. It also made a superstar out of diminutive, quick-talking comedian
Two years later, we have “Think Like a Man Too,” a sequel
that screams “cashing in again.” From the half-heartedly clever spelling of
“Too” in the title to the overly familiar Las Vegas setting to the complete
breaks in narrative for music-video style interludes, everything about this
film smacks of laziness.
The one person working hard, because it is his shtick, is
Hart. A little bit of his act goes a long way; here, his frantic presence is
stretched thin to the point of snapping. In the first film—which, like this
one, was directed by Tim Story—Hart was an enjoyable scene-stealer in small,
sporadic doses. He then went on to re-team with Story in this winter’s
formulaic, mismatched-buddy-cop comedy “Ride Along” opposite Ice Cube. Now, in
this sequel, he’s not just part of the group, he’s the narrator and driving
Hart takes over duties from Harvey, smothering the film with
amped-up voiceover that over-explains the film’s wacky romantic shenanigans,
which weren’t all that complicated in the first place. Usually he does this
with tortured, extended basketball metaphors about the teams being tied (because
it’s the eternal struggle of men vs. women, hardy har har) or the beauty of an
off-balance, fade-away jumper.
As contrived as it all sounds, there is an actual reason for
all the characters from the first film to reassemble for part two courtesy of returning writers Keith Merryman and David A. Newman: Mama’s boy Michael (Terrence
J) and single mom Candace (Regina Hall) are getting married. (Although Mama
herself, played once again by a withering Jenifer Lewis, keeps trying to get
between them in stereotypical fashion.)
All the sources of tension that defined the other characters—neediness, fear of commitment, balancing career and romance—have
dissipated. The men and women are all coupled up and happy. So what’s left to
do with them now? Not much, it seems, except allow them to wallow in clichéd
Vegas antics. Media exec Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) has planned a wild
bachelorette party for Candace and their pals: dress designer Mya (Meagan
Good), new wife Kristen (Gabrielle Union) and the random Sonia (LaLa Anthony),
who’s thrown into the mix as an afterthought.
Meanwhile, Hart’s overzealous Cedric has secured a luxury
suite at Caesars Palace and planned a crazy night for the groom and their
buddies: laid-back chef Dominic (Michael Ealy), ladies’ man Zeke (Romany Malco)
and stoner Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara). Also along for the ride are Gary Owen and
Wendi McLendon-Covey as Bennett and Tish, the token, dorky white couple,
complete with fanny pack (for him) and sweater sets (for her). Naturally, they
will learn to let loose and get their freak on in various capacities.
But all these folks are pretty bland, really; then again,
even gorgeous, charismatic actors like these can get steamrolled when Hart is
around. And there are so many returning players combined with several new
supporting characters that everyone gets lost in the shuffle (if you’ll pardon
the inadvertent gambling pun). There’s no real plot here; no sense of narrative
progression. Story moves them from the pool to the blackjack table to the dance
floor to the strip club and, eventually, jail.
Details and plot points that seem to matter in the moment fall by the wayside: the flashy, orange Lamborghini Cedric is
driving when he pulls up to the hotel’s valet parking, for example, or the bash
he plans in the $44,000-a-night suite he can't afford. He secures a stripper pole for the room,
hands out flyers and everything. Does it even go down? Do random strangers show
up at the door and wonder what happened? None of it seems to matter.
The best sequence in the whole film has very little to do
with the nuptials at hand. It’s a full-length music video for Bell Biv Devoe’s
kitschy, catchy, 1990 hit “Poison,” complete with all the stylistic details of
the R&B/hip-hop clips from that era. Clad in sexy, sparkly nightclub
dresses, the ladies writhe seductively on couches or mug ferociously before
fish-eye lenses. They seem to be seizing the reins and enjoying themselves
genuinely for the first time. They do the ENTIRE song.
It’s a jubilant departure—but it’s also a glaring
reminder of how little else the film has to offer. And it’s enough to make you
wish Michael and Candace had just eloped.