The age-old battle of the sexes is equipped with some fresh ground rules in the astute, contemporary romantic comedy, Think Like a Man.
As executed by an appealing ensemble of smooth operators, this adaptation of the Steve Harvey advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man often hits its amusing marks, but with a weighty running time of two hours, it often feels more like a lecture than an intended romp.
Nevertheless, that attractive cast and the silky production values, combined with Harvey’s loyal radio, stand-up and Family Feud following, should ensure that the Screen Gems release opens strongly, drawing an urban audience in the market for a more urbane Tyler Perry.
Harvey plays the part of himself here — that of a best-selling author whose book instructs women to kick their relationships up a notch by spilling a few secrets regarding how guys really feel about stuff like intimacy and commitment.
Among those who manage to get their hands on a hot copy are Gabrielle Union (she also appeared in the similarly themed 2004 rom-com, Breakin’ All the Rules), who plays the longtime live-in girlfriend of slacker Jerry Ferrara (the Non-Committer) and is tired of their place resembling a dorm room.
There’s also Taraji P. Henson’s demanding exec, who learns to readjust her high standards in order to let in Michael Ealy’s attentive but broke struggling chef (the Dreamer), and Regina Hall as a single mom who meets nice guy Terrence J, who’s great with her kid but turns out to be a classic Mama’s Boy.
Rounding out the quartet of readily identifiable types is Romany Malco, the Player, a sweet-talking commitment-phobe whose bluff is called when he meets vulnerable Meagan Good, who adopts Harvey’s 90-day rule before succumbing to his advances.
But just when these women seem to be getting the upper hand in the respective relationships, the men get wise to Harvey’s teachings and proceed to turn the tables.
While screenwriters Keith Merryman & David A. Newman (Friends With Benefits) know their way around smart male-female banter, they never quite succeeded in making a seamless book-to-movie transition.
Having Harvey frequently dispensing advice from his book can be a real distraction from the fictional characters and their stories, not to mention resemble something that could be confused for shameless selfpromotion.
And although director Tim Story (Barbershop) is no stranger to ensemble comedy-dramas, all the intersecting stories being told here could have benefited from a lighter, less purposeful touch.
He does coax some fine performances from his impeccably manicured cast, which also includes the always terrific Jenifer Lewis as the suffocating mother in question. Kevin Hart provides extensive comic relief as the strip bar-frequenting Happily Divorced Guy.
And Chris Brown keeps popping up as Good’s professed last of the one-night stands.
Technically, the production is sleekly high gloss, thanks to Chris Cornwell’s upscale production design and Larry Blanford’s elegant cinematography, which, while on the subject of marketing opportunities, effectively combine to serve as a ready-made promo for L.A. Live and environs.