Think Like a Man: Talented Actors Make Due With the Worst

Gabrielle Union and Jerry Ferrara in Think Like a Man.
Gabrielle Union and Jerry Ferrara in Think Like a Man.

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Starring Chris Brown, Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Michael Ely, Jenifer Lewis, and Jerry Ferrara. Directed by Tim Story. Written by Keith Merryman and David A. Newman. Based on the book by Steve Harvey. 120 minutes. Rated PG-13.

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As 2009's dismal He's Just Not That Into You showed, about the only draw of movies based on relationship-advice books — bloated with plot thickets propelled by depressing heterosexual-coupling stratagems and counterattacks that would make even Sun Tzu weep with exhaustion — is watching a few talented performers make do with the worst. Based on Original King of Comedy and Family Feud host Steve Harvey's self-help primer, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, this adaptation by Tim Story (Fantastic Four) often plays like a book on tape: The women characters, advising one another about 90-day rules and "controlling the cookie," begin their lines with, "As Steve Harvey says..." and the author himself (who also executive-produced) frequently pops up, directly addressing the camera and quoting himself. When the male counterparts of four dyads — one long-term couple plus three sets of daters — realize their girlfriends have been putting Harvey's words into action, they strike back with calculations of their own, the manipulations apparently laying the groundwork for fulfilling relationships based on trust and open communication. Enduring a daylong session of couples' therapy is more fun (and flies by faster) than this film, but relief is found whenever Michael Ealy, as a caterer trying to impress Taraji P. Henson's class-conscious CEO, and the redoubtable ham Jenifer Lewis, mother to a worshipful son, are onscreen.

 
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