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Tuesday, September 02, 2014, 4:10 a.m.
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Review

Think Like a Man Too

By Philip Martin

This article was published June 20, 2014 at 2:45 a.m.

and-a-little-man-shall-lead-them-cedric-kevin-hart-in-loincloth-and-blond-wig-and-the-rest-of-the-fellas-are-back-for-another-round-of-male-bonding-in-think-like-a-man-too

And a Little Man shall lead them: Cedric (Kevin Hart, in loincloth and blond wig) and the rest of the fellas are back for another round of male bonding in Think Like a Man Too.

Think Like a Man Too

71 Cast: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco, La La Anthony, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Dennis Haysbert, Gary Owen, David Walton, Jenifer Lewis, Wendy Williams, Jerry Ferrara, Adam Brody, Wendi McLendon-Covey

Director: Tim Story

Rating: PG-13, for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material

Running time: 106 minutes

A message to the cast and crew of Think Like a Man Too: You have got to do better.

Your movie is simply unacceptable. It's lazy and uninspired and, worst of all, displays a certain contempt for your audience -- the men and women who buy the tickets that support your nice lifestyles. I know you weren't aiming very high, that all you really wanted to do was produce a couple of hours of escapist entertainment, but the operating assumption behind this movie seems to be that people don't know anything and care for nothing more than seeing the same old comforting fantasies. As they say on the Internet, "Fail."

Before we go any further, I guess I have to write a paragraph about what the movie is "about." Well, it's about getting the couples from the surprise 2012 hit Think Like a Man back to rake off some more cash. So they contrived a wedding in Las Vegas as an occasion for them to get back together. Once there, the guys and the girls separate into teams and head off into the neon Nevada night for bachelor and bachelorette parties.

It's depressing to see this much obvious talent and acumen put in service of something so willfully slight and calculatedly cynical. So, so dumb and yet clever enough to avoid an R rating. Someone thought it would be a good idea to make a Hangover for what they euphemistically call an "urban" audience. But we had to preserve the project's viability as a "family" film. So we have the characters talk (a little) about the possibility of doing lewd and subversive things while nothing more exciting than a Bell Biv DeVoe music video (tellingly based on their 24-year-old hit "Poison") actually happens. A Texan might say this movie is all hat and no cattle.

It's pretty depressing -- some of these actors (and especially the actresses) deserve a lot better than this reductive, cliche-ridden sequel. It's all wishfulness -- everybody has a few extra thousand dollars to throw around, and Las Vegas tropes are interpreted the least imaginative way possible. It feels like someone wants to squeeze every penny out of Kevin Hart before he gets used up.

I think Hart, like a lot of comedians, is probably a fine actor at base. But to employ one of those basketball analogies the diminutive comic is so fond of, at this point in his career he's more suited to being a role player -- someone who can jump off the bench and give a movie five frenetic, hustling minutes. Here, he's made the centerpiece; he hogs the ball like Carmelo Anthony or Russell Westbrook. He shoots a lot and his percentage isn't good.

While the overpopulated and amateurish script is occasionally redeemed by the performances (Dennis Haysbert adds a little welcome class, Wendy Williams literally phones in most of her performance, but still), some of the actors are so negligible (I'm looking at you, Jerry Ferrara) that it's hard to care how or even if the film resolves their various standard-issue relationship quandaries.

And someone else might use the occasion to point out the reflexive, casual sexism and gender panic inherent in the project, which after all is the sequel to a movie based on a sincere and bizarre self-help book comedian Steve Harvey wrote for the ladies. All I want to say is that Think Like a Man Too seems like the absolute antithesis of Louis C.K.'s brilliant FX series Louie, which every week seems to transgress the dim territories of male-female sexual negotiation without ever coming across as self-congratulatory or smug. TLAMT is constantly self-congratulatory and smug, and it presents women as prizes of dubious value.

All of which would have been OK were the movie funny enough. But it's not even close to funny enough. It's tedious and dull. It's obvious and, worst of all, likely exactly what the filmmakers intended.

MovieStyle on 06/20/2014

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