Movies that have a fairly race-specific focus tend to deliver mixed messages, and such was the case with the romantic comedy Think Like A Man, the screen “adaptation” of Steve Harvey’s bestselling book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. Though early box office winnings have certainly earned Think Like a Man some national attention thus far, I don’t think that I would call this movie a success just yet. Sure, laughs were abundant, but often came at the cost of knocking race or gender in what seemed to me as highly derogatory. While that may certainly be acceptable to some (and I get that race/gender stereotypes can be funny and often true), I just find that it does more harm than good in the long run.
The movie focuses on several distinct personas that exist when it comes to dating, all of which stem from different chapters in Harvey’s book. In the movie, these personas come into play heavily, and often are strongly conflicting with each other. A few, for example: The Dreamer vs. The Woman Who is Her Own Man, the Mama’s Boy vs. The Single Mom, and The Player vs. The 90-Day Rule Girl.
Essentially, at the beginning of the movie, the men have it. They seem to have everything men want – sex, women, mom’s home cooking, a sweet-ass bachelor pad, and more. In contrast, most of the women seem fairly unhappy – the single mom who can’t find a date, the CEO who works too much to find a date, the girl who is stuck in a nine-year relationship with a guy who won’t commit, and the girl who puts out too soon, only to find that the guy is a sleaze-ball (in this case, played by Chris Brown).
Things start to change after the women pick up on the secrets of Steve Harvey through his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man. The women use the tactics in this book to start a process of change in their men, and for the most part – it seems to work. The men are taken aback – confused, and essentially become part of the game; that is, until they discover that one of their own has betrayed them, and they begin using the book against the women in their lives. Unfortunately, things begin to backfire for all parties involved, something that is quite unexpected, really.
I have to admit, the movie is definitely good for a few laughs. It is interesting to see fairly real relationships played out this way, but unfortunately that’s about all it’s truly good for. I don’t like to be the Debbie Downer and throw a wrench in things, but to be honest, almost everything in the movie made me understand a bit more why relationships today suck. To me, the message of the movie reads that love is a game (even the tagline says “Let the mind games begin”). Sure, the way things turn out in the end shows the audience that playing the game can definitely get you burned; but, in this case, it’s a movie – not real life.
Additionally, the conflict of race in this movie really irks me. For example, the one guy in the movie that really seems to have a perfect relationship is the dopey white guy – Bennett (Gary Owen). He makes a few statements that prove how thoughtful he is in his relationship with his wife, such as wanting to cook for her or be home to see her, because that’s what being in a relationship is about. This gives the other guys something to think about; and, while it certainly is some great advice, it just makes me feel like – oh, look, that white guy knows so much about relationships – instead of the reality, which is relationship are hard work, and EVERYONE has to work at them.
Now that I’m done giving my two cents about that, I do have to applaud the cast. There was some really strong comedic acting from every single cast member, and there are a lot of them: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Jenkins, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, Gabrielle Union, and LaLa Anthony. For such a large cast with such an intricate story line, they do a really great job of connecting with the audience and capturing their attention throughout some of the confusion.
I will admit, most people will find this movie to be very funny – in fact, the audience I attended with was close to tears for a good majority of the movie. However, for me, a lot of the humor was lost (I’m the whitest white girl you know – in fact, I was called “white girl” twice at the theater), and I’m just getting tired of the ridiculous messages that these movies seem to send. All in all, it boils down to opinion and taste, and in my opinion, it does what it’s supposed to do, make you laugh – but, truly, at what cost?
Think Like A Man – 6.5/10