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The battle of the sexes is fought with fresh ground rules and a likable ensemble of smooth operators in the astute rom-com Think Like a Man. But with a hefty two-hour running time, the adaptation of Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man often feels more like a lecture than a romp.
The attractive cast, silky production values and Harvey’s loyal stand-up, radio and Family Feud audience should ensure that the release opens strong, drawing those in the market for a more urbane Tyler Perry.
Harvey plays himself, a best-selling author whose book spills secrets about how guys really feel about commitment. Four women use the book to kick their relationships up a notch. Gabrielle Union (also in the similar Breakin’ All the Rules) plays the live-in girlfriend of The Non-Committer, Jerry Ferrara; Taraji P. Henson’s demanding exec readjusts her high standards to let in The Dreamer, Michael Ealy’s attentive but broke chef; Regina Hall’s single mom meets nice guy Terrence J, who’s great with her kid but turns out to be The Mama’s Boy. Rounding out the male types is Romany Malco’s The Player, a sweet-talking commitment-phobe whose bluff is called when he meets the vulnerable Meagan Good, who adopts Harvey’s no-full-benefits 90-day sex rule. Just when the women gain the upper hand, the men get wise to Harvey’s advice and turn the tables.
No stranger to ensemble comedy-dramas, director Tim Story (Barbershop) coaxes fine performances from his cast, including the always-terrific Jenifer Lewis and Kevin Hart as The Happily Divorced Guy. Chris Brown keeps popping up as Good’s professed last of the one-night stands. Still, the intersecting stories could have used a lighter touch.
Screenwriters David A. Newman (Friends With Benefits) and Keith Merryman know their way around smart male-female banter but have trouble making a seamless book-to-movie transition. Harvey dispensing advice from his book is a distraction and at times resembles shameless self-promotion.
The look is sleek. Chris Cornwell’s production design and Larry Blanford’s elegant cinematography combine to serve as a ready-made L.A. Live promo. Think like a marketer.
Opens: Friday, April 20 (Screen Gems)
Cast: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson
Director: Tim Story
Rated: PG-13, 120 minutes
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