The tables are turned on the male gender in Tim Story’s newest film, Think Like A Man: an ensemble comedy with some radiant chemistry, cute relationships, and enough charm to surpass its narrative shortcomings.
Since Think Like A Man is an unusual film (as opposed to the advertisements that would have you thinking it’s just another Jumping The Broom or a Tyler Perry movie), I’m going to examine the plot a bit differently.
Five friends, all romantically involved with beautiful women, are having similar trouble with their relationships: everything is just a bit too serious. After a few dates the group realizes that the oddity in each relationship is a book written by Steve Harvey (a comedian turned author) that has exposed the mentalities of all types of males, and now is being consumed by all women looking for that special someone.
Our players in the film are as followed:
Dominic “the dreamer” (Michael Ealy) is a caterer whose goals in life are to please his girl Laruen (Taraji P. Henson), and open a restaurant of his own. The problem? Lauren is a hustle and bustle businesswoman, bringing home six figures, and has extremely high standards. Dominic is just barely getting by in life, with little prospects in sight. It’s the typical battle between love and status.
Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union) have been involved for nine years, but are still not married. She’s waiting for him to pop the question; he’s simply satisfied with their relationship (which revolves around marijuana, video games, and movies). Turmoil begins to brew after Kristen picks up the book, and starts changing their ways.
Mya (played by the sunning Meagan Good) is another strong-willed women who may have found a potential winner in Zeke (Romany Malco). Naturally, their opposing ideas about relationships clash: Zeke is “the player”, free willing and interested in bedding any girl with a pulse and long legs. Mya understands that type of man (because of the book) and puts their relationship on a 90-day sex rule. Temptation ensues, but so does heartfelt conversations.
Terrence (Terrence Jenkins) is your typical “mommas boy” who has attachment issues. He falls head over heels for his former high school crush, Candace (Regina Hall), though. Both characters have their idiosyncrasies, but the romance depends on whether Terrence can step up to the plate, and be a man.
Lastly, we have Cedric (Kevin Hart), who’s recently divorced and ready for action (of which he obtains none). Hart’s character, along with happily married white man Bennett (Gary Owen), is mostly in the film to keep the bunch together.
Each relationship, cut in vignettes, directly or inherently, ties into one another. The problems between the characters are similar to our own: discontentment, lack of loyalty, and pure uncertainty of your counterpart. And, as with watching multiple relationships, some are more intriguing than others.
But what Think Like A Man suffers from too often, is the creating of archetypes, rather than characters. It takes more than hour for each player to break out of his or her stereotype.
In the tradition of ensemble comedies, each relationship operates under the same, upswing and downswing rhythm. Also following in the tropes of the genre, each male character gets their 5 minutes of pleading for love. You know, the scene where the guy delivers a monologue professing is everlasting love for the girl, beginner her to take him back.
Albeit these issues, however, Think Like A Man’s appeal as a fun, light, and energetic romantic comedy prevails. Story’s endeavor is more of an achievement in hindsight, considering the plethora of atrocious rom-coms we receive month after month.
Think Like A Man is imperfect, as is any human relationship, but the film manages to find laughter and warmth, in spite of its narrative obstacles. Most conversations between the characters deal with the concept of a relationship. While it may not having anything new or refreshing to say about the act of falling in and out of love, there’s a lively spirit that Tim Story captures that I can’t quite identify. Perhaps that’s a good thing though.
After all, the element of surprise is still one of the must satisfying feelings the movies occasionally offer.