Human beings have looked to books for centuries trying to find out just what makes the opposite sex tick. Men Are From Mars, and Women Are From Venus were very popular books but Steve Harvey’s “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” has been racing off shelves. In it Harvey gives women an insider’s perspective into the workings of a man’s mind. Just as you ladies always assumed there’s not much going on up there but now the book makes it easier for women to get what they want.
Four friends are all at different points in their lives. A mixed bag of successful, reluctant and middle of the road individuals, they are all looking for love. They think they have it all together until they learn that each of the women they are pursuing have been taking cues and lessons from Steve Harvey’s book. To get the ball back in their court the too buy his book and unbeknownst to the targets of their affection, begin taking his advice to heart. It’s a coy game of cat and mouse but turning the tables is all one big revolving door since everyone’s reading from the same play book.
An all-star cast leads this cute partial adaption of the above mentioned book. Steve Harvey’s source material is not just some background premise in this rom-com, it’s a commentary for the events unfolding. Really though it’s almost like a feature length commercial which gives us the Cliff’s Notes of Harvey’s ideas through comical dramatizations. It even gets meta for a while when we find Harvey (in the first act) either promoting the book on talk shows or breaking the fourth wall both narrating/advertising it as well.
As the poster at right shows, mostly dramatic characters lead this ensemble rom-com but the one element consistently bringing out the guffaws is Kevin Hart. His role at first seems relegated to comedic relief which he does so brilliantly, killing every scene he’s in, yet his role expands as narrator to most of the story. He’s the one guy in a relationship seeing his four friends struggle with their new relationships. Not a mentor, as he’s trying to get through a divorce himself, but an example of how not to let love ruin your life.
Think Like A Man goes a long way to show you all the extremes or “types” of individuals in the world (or that the book addresses). It’s funny and covers the bases that would appeal to most viewers but the contrivances and conveniences get to be a bit much at times. It seems highly unbelievable that all those guys/girls would be friends with each other and on top of that they’d all be attracted to the exact types of individuals described in the book and then find that they’re all friends with each other. If that last sentence seemed exhausting, it mirrors the plot of the story. Everyone tries to hide the fact they’re reading Harvey’s book and like the movie tells us, “War is based on the art of deception…but only dumb-asses get caught“. For either party to use the book (e.g. something so topical and modern), it’s wonder that anyone of them didn’t realize things pretty quickly.
All the events play out like a funnier version of a soap opera and despite the surface level criticisms it is a surprisingly enjoyable time. There’s a great mix of both comedic and dramatic talent that do a lot with the material. Steve Harvey provides the backdrop and set up but it’s the great acting from Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, even Romany Malco that makes the message and commentary in this fun and fanciful tale a little weightier than what you’d get from a Valentine’s Day card.
Think Like A Man is longer than your run of the mill romantic comedy but with 4 different/interweaving romantic stories, everyone needs a set up and conflict and a pay off. Stripped of both fluff and needless scenes, Tim Story, true to his name, uses nearly every second of the 123 minute film to focus on the essentials; character and story. There are no shots of characters longing, montages, pensive heartfelt breakdowns or trite rom-com tropes. This is a fleshed out dramatization of of Harvey’s material that shows us that even though someone may claim to have written a “book of love” there really are no rules.