DVD Release Date: August 28, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: April 20, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use)
Genre: Comedy, Adaptation
Run Time: 123 min.
Director: Tim Story
Actors: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good, Kevin Hart, Terrence Jenkins, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Gabrielle Union, Terrence J, Gary Owen, Steve Harvey

Think Like a Man, a big-screen version of comedian and radio-show host Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, represents a new type of entertainment. It’s half adaptation and half infomercial for the movie’s source material.

The female characters in Think Like a Man are obsessed with Harvey’s book. They watch Harvey discuss it on an Oprah-style talk show and exclaim of Harvey’s advice, “That’s true!” They visit the bookstore, where they handle and page through Harvey’s book. They read passages aloud to each other. Then, after the women have used the book to wise up, the men in their lives read it to find out what the women think of them. And, in case anyone more interested in the actors and the story’s characters loses sight of the book, its author appears sporadically to speak the book’s truths directly to the camera.

The approach may be crass and self-serving, but the advice from Harvey and his book is sometimes worth heeding. Even so, Harvey’s counsel isn’t nearly as tough as he thinks it is, nor particularly biblical in its specifics. Consider it entertainment with a moral dimension, but also as a sign of how far our standards have fallen as a society.

The story follows four men—Dominic (Michael Ealy), Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara, Seven Days in Utopia), Michael (Terrence J, Burlesque) and Zeke (Romany Malco)—as they pursue relationships with four different women: Mya (Meagan Good, Jumping the Broom), Candace (Regina Hall, Death at a Funeral), Lauren (Taraji P. Henson, Larry Crowne) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union, Good Deeds). Dominic is a professional underachiever afraid to reveal his situation to his status-sensitive love interest. Michael can’t make his woman a higher priority than his mother (Jenifer Lewis, Cars 2). Jeremy is a slacker who’d rather smoke dope and preserve a college mentality than get a job; and Zeke is determined to break the will of a woman whose goal is to wait 90 days before having sex with him. (“Who waits that long?” a character asks incredulously, as if the thought of delayed sex is beyond comprehension.)

The women in the film struggle with past instances of getting too intimate too quickly, but they have difficulty not falling into that trap. Faith is rarely front and center in their lives; instead, in the movie Christianity is played for laughs, with characters expressing their shared faith in the midst of passionate foreplay.

More important to the characters than questions about religious faith are queries like, “What are your long-term goals?” that are designed to root out the men who aren’t interested in a serious commitment.

If there’s a scene-stealer in Think Like a Man—one performance that stands out from the rest—it’s Kevin Hart (Little Fockers) as Cedric, a man on the verge of finalizing his divorce. By turns hyper and angry, the embittered Cedric launches one verbal volley after another about his friends’ romantic pursuits. Watching Hart, it’s easy to see why his concert documentary from last year, Laugh at My Pain, was a breakout success in limited release. He’s a talent waiting to find a large, appreciative audience, and Think Like a Man may just catapult him to greater things. Long after Think Like a Man is forgotten, Hart is likely to still be around, making audiences smile.

Better those audiences remember Hart and his comic energy than they do Think Like a Man’s 90-Day Rule, the movie’s strip-club discussions or its jokes about gays. Sure, some of Harvey’s advice is a step in the right direction for people adrift in a sea of bad relationship advice—but it’s often nothing more than a step. Think Like a Man is far too sure of its own good intentions, and far too willing to overlook its moral shortcomings.

There are some laughs to be had in Think Like a Man, but the lessons it teaches are less about how the sexes should treat each other than they are about how low the bar has been set in terms of dating expectations. For deeper guiding principles encompassing all of the areas in one’s life, there’s a better Book to consult than Harvey’s.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “Kicked you’re a-s”; “s-it”; references to male and female genitalia; “da-n”; “pissin’”; “kind of gay”; “b-tch”; “Christ sakes”; “ti-ties”; strip clubs have explicit names; racial epithet; “bull-hit.”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Talk about getting high, and of cigarette burns and bong spills; several scenes of drinking; a woman blows out smoke from a bong hit she takes off screen, and she reminisces about getting high in college; drinking in celebration of the finalization of man’s divorce.
  • Sex/Nudity: An animated gag about circumcision; a comment that marriage was the only way for men to get what they want in the old days, but now we have the Internet for that; a character asks, “You sexted?”; implication that a boy is gay; allusion to sex the previous night; bare-chested men in several scenes; a woman tries to follow Harvey’s “90-Day Rule” of waiting to have sex with her boyfriend; the woman’s sex organ is referred to as a “cookie” that she should keep locked in a cookie jar; a man offers to pay two women to kiss; a boy asks if his mother plans to date a man or a woman, adding that Grandma is starting to wonder; passionate kissing; a woman sleeps with a man on their first date; a man says he’s the original “negro gigolo”; discussion of STDs and of “getting laid” on a couch; discussion of sex games; people wrapped in sheets after sex; an older man descends the stairs in a bathrobe toward another woman in a bathrobe, implying that the two have had sex; a woman tells another woman, “I have someone who’s perfect for you. Her name is . . .” suggesting that the other woman is gay.
  • Violence/Crime: Comments include “they found Jesus,” and “I’m a Christian, too.”
  • Marriage/Religion: A character says “Sorry, but Jesus has my heart”; divorced woman is said to have not had sex for several years; the Bible is cited as the source for an outrageous comment; someone says, “I want you and Jesus”; a man says “thank you” and looks toward the heavens.

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.