Oh, love. What wonders and what disasters you hold in store for us, as we seek our fulfillment of the indirect promises you gave us all! Pity, to think that what all our lives should come to know may escape us. Good thing Steve Harvey’s around to help us out!
That’s the through-line on Think Like a Man, if not my personal philosophy. The movie sets up a full cast of four or five couples and explores how men try to woo women, and women try to mold men. It’s hard to take too seriously – after all, this comedy is based on a non-fictional self-help book by Steve Harvey, who weirdly shows occasionally in the film to describe his different “types” – the Mama’s Boy, the Player, etc. But even when it’s not trying to be sincere, it’s often too slight to have much consequence.
The mostly black cast spotlights the suddenly huge stand-up Kevin Hart as a single character that also narrates the film. He’s bumps us around as we’re dropped into four different romances in this ensemble piece, all involving a friend of his as they try to strike up a new relationship and successfully transition it to the next level.
Hart has some comedic energy, but when he’s reduced to a voice-over, his swift and sharp tongue just comes off as a lot of noise. But he’s sorely needed in all the story lines, as two hours isn’t enough to tell all of these stories and make them of much interest. Most of the elements in them are hardly new, so it feels more like a compilation of past stories than an anthology of new ones.
That’s only worsened by the characters, which are similarly pulled from stock footage. Out of the entire cast, only Gabrielle Union (Kristen, trying to get her slacker boyfriend to grow up) really shows up and creates an interesting, compelling person out of the flat source material; everyone else does little with their characters that are already weak on the page.
Story-wise, the movie is trying to accomplish too many things without investing in anything in particular. But there are moments, most of which completely unnecessary, that go down easy. The cast may not bring much to their characters, but as an ensemble they have the chemistry to support rapid-fire banter that go on for minutes longer than they have any business doing without losing your attention. They might not be interesting, but they can charm their way around a scene of guys shooting the shit.
Think Like a Man is total lightweight. That it understands this keeps it from ever being difficult – what could have been a completely inconsequential film is instead an inconsequential film that I didn’t mind being around.