Think Like a Man

The boys realize that the girls have wrested the upper hand...Photo: Screen Gems

3 StarsWhy I Saw It: Incredibly impressed with Steve Harvey on the Oprah show when the book came out, and love Gabrielle Union.
What I Thought: It may never quite hit the power of its source material, yet while never dives deeply, what it attempts, it accomplishes.

Think Like a Man. Dir. Tim Story. Perf. Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Hart, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Jenifer Lewis. Screen Gems, 2012.

Four friends conspire to turn the tables on their women when they discover the ladies have been using Steve Harvey’s relationship advice against them.

Steve Harvey (writer, comedian, and human observer extraordinaire) appeared the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss his new book, and turned a nation of women on our ears. In a blunt yet caring style, he laid out why for so many the relationship area simply won’t click ~ and what to do about it: act like a lady, but think like a man.

Yes, gentlemen, he gave up your secrets.

So sharp and insightful are Harvey’s observations that a story playing them out was perhaps inevitable. And now in film, we get to see both the chagrin of the betrayed (the boys) and the triumph of victorious (the girls.. no wait, the boys… no wait…).

Think Like a Man succeeds in stark contrast to the failure of He’s Just Not That Into You (inspired by the book elucidating the game-changing observation introduced via Sex and the City). The latter kept to its premise on a mere single storyline, leaving the others to tired retreads of immaturity and ambivalence. [>yawn<]

Think Like a Man, on the other hand, nails every one of its archetypes with clarity and humor (the Player, the Career Woman, the Happily Married Man, et al), and pairs them in engaging points-counterpoint that further heighten the parrying (the Mama’s Boy vs. the Single Mother, etc.).

I came away remembering having seen the Bacon Brothers perform on late night back in the 90’s, with Kevin on lead singing Only a Good Woman. Lively and clever, its main refrain was “get a good woman and she’ll make you a man,”and its endurance in my mind due to the [apparent] fact ~ over decades, now ~ that he and Kyra Sedgwick have struck that divine interplay. As do the Bacons, Harvey hints that where we (of both sexes) show up well, while also allowing the other to shape us, therein be magic.

Less the delectable fare of Masraff’s and more the memory of a fabulous time that just happened to occur at Chili’s, Think Like a Man the movie does well for itself. Most of its value comes through delivery: strong performances compensate for any gaps in substance, and situational amusements abound (such as challenging the next team up for use of the basketball court).

It may never quite hit the power of its source material, but while never dives deeply, what it attempts, it accomplishes.

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