out of Five
Running time: 120
Think Like a Man has a likeable cast and a handful of good lines, but the script presents a reductive view of relationships that borders on insulting and it's hard to get emotionally involved in any of the storylines as a result.
What's it all about?
Directed by Tim Story, Think Like A Man is based on the 2009 best-selling relationship advice book by comedian and radio host Steve Harvey (full title: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think about Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, which should tell you everything you need to know). The film focuses on four women (Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union) who get hold of Harvey's book and proceed to follow his advice with their current or prospective boyfriends (Romany Malco, Terrence Jenkins, Michael Ealy and Jerry Ferrara, respectively).
However, the four men are a group of friends and when they each discover that their girlfriends have been using Harvey's book, they decide to turn the tables. Meanwhile, wise-cracking, newly divorced Cedric (Kevin Hart) comments from the sidelines and professes to enjoy his newfound freedom, while still secretly hoping to get back together with his wife.
Director Tim Story found early success with ensemble comedy Barbershop, so it's no surprise that the main strength of Think Like a Man is the likeable relationship between the five men, complete with their affectionate piss-taking and easy banter. Similarly, the good looking cast are extremely appealing, the performances are fine and there's decent chemistry within each of the pairings.
Aside from the fact that the entire film feels like a giant advert for Harvey's book (the camera often lingers on the cover and Harvey himself puts in frequent appearances), the main problem with the film is that the script takes an absurdly reductive view of relationships that borders on insulting and never feels convincing. It doesn't help that each of the men is introduced as a pre-captioned problem type (The Dreamer, The Mama's Boy, The Player and so on), while the women are also reduced to stereotypes (single mum, high-flying career woman, woman-stuck-waiting-for-boyfriend-to-propose and so on), so it's hard to get emotionally involved with any of the storylines when they're presented in such simplistic terms.
On top of that, despite the odd good line (mostly courtesy of Kevin Hart), the film is never quite as funny as it thinks it is (a mid-credits comedy basketball match is excruciating) and it's all relentlessly predictable from beginning to end. It's also at least twenty minutes too long – no romcom should ever be over 100 minutes, ensemble or no.
The likeable cast in Think Like a Man ensures that this is never less than watchable, but the relentless stereotyping eventually grates and it's nowhere near as funny as it should have been.