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Friday, June 20, 2014

Movie review: Kevin Hart's charisma can't save Think Like a Man Too

Posted by on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM

click to enlarge Kevin Hart as Cedric in Think Like a Man Too - PHOTO BY MATT KENNEDY / COURTESY OF SCREEN GEMS PRODUCTIONS
  • photo by Matt Kennedy / courtesy of Screen Gems Productions
  • Kevin Hart as Cedric in Think Like a Man Too
Think Like a Man Too
★★
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Budding superstar Kevin Hart returns to the big screen with THINK LIKE A MAN TOO, a sequel to the surprise 2012 hit based on Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. It downplays the gender games of its source material to follow a group of friends on a cookie-cutter adventure through our nation’s id. Perhaps Adam Sandler isn’t the only actor in Hollywood who chooses projects based on location; getting to spend a few weeks in Las Vegas is the only fathomable excuse for choosing to be in this film.

The boilerplate plot revolves around the upcoming nuptials of Michael (Terrance J. Corwley) and Candace (Regina Hall), with Michael’s disapproving mother (Jenifer Lewis) staying in the adjoining hotel suite. The wedding guests are the couples from the first film: lovable chef Dominic (Michael Ealy) and hard-charging exec Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), reformed player Zeke (Romany Malco) and player-hater Mya (Meagan Good), man-child Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and ready-for-a-kid-NOW Kristen (Gabrielle Union), plus the terminally white Bennett (Gary Owen) and Tish (Wendi McLendon-Covey).

Then, of course, comes Hart’s Cedric, serving as narrator, comic foil and box-office bait. Cedric controls the male side of the wedding party as best man. He soon has an afterparty planned with an appearance by boxer Floyd Mayweather and a butler installing stripper poles in his suite, and takes every chance to roll his eyes at the happy couples surrounding him as he goes through his umpteenth separation from his wife, Gail (Wendy Williams).

The returning filmmakers, director Tim Story and screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, waste the Vegas setting by attempting to produce an adult-themed film for an all-ages crowd. While the movie carries a PG-13 rating, it plays more like a hard PG—despite the bikini-clad ladies who show up from time to time. The situations that the couples find themselves mixed up in are standard “wild and crazy” antics that feel outdated in a post-The Hangover America.

The most troubling aspects of the film still tend to stem from the relationship aspects of the story, despite shying away from its self-help roots. Relationship-ending arguments are settled by the woman making all of the sacrifices, be they personal or professional. Meanwhile, a simple “I’m sorry” caps the man’s involvement over and over again.

The film has some merits, and Story continues to evolve as a director, but he relies too strongly on Hart’s charisma. With a cast including the under-utilized Malco (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and rising star Ealy (About Last Night), the laughs easily could have been more spread out. Unfortunately, everyone involved appears to be happy to ride Hart’s popularity all the way to the bank … at least until the inevitable backlash kicks in.

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