Comedian/actor/radio and television show host Steve Harvey shocked the world a few years ago when he added love guru to his repertoire with the publication of “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” The popular relationship primer, which earned the #1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. mapped out a step-by-step strategy designed to help any woman turn her man into Mr. Right merely by understanding and manipulating the male psyche.
Think Like a Man, the movie, is less an adaptation of the book than a battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy revolving around a quartet of conniving females who secretly rely on the tenets of Steve’s philosophy to try to land the men of their dreams. This proves easier said than done once the guys discover what the objects of their affection are up to, and then decide to beat them to the proverbial punch by reading the opus themselves.
Directed by Tim Story, the film features an A-list cast with stars in both the lead and supporting roles. Calling the play-by-play is Kevin Hart, who does double duty as narrator and as Cedric, a trash-talking blowhard going through a difficult divorce.
Luckily, the four ill-matched couples at the heart of the tale are so simplistically-drawn that they’re easy to keep straight. Earnest Dominic (Michael Ealy) is an unemployed chef who dreams of opening his own restaurant. He goes to extraordinary lengths to impress Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), a status-conscious corporate executive he thinks wouldn’t give him the time of day if she knew he didn’t have a job or a Mercedes.
Meanwhile, Michael (Terrence Jenkins) and single-mom Candace (Regina Hall) can never get together between the distracting demands of his meddling mother (Jenifer Lewis) and her precocious, 6 year-old son (Kaleel Harris). Then there’s Kristen (Gabrielle Union) who has grown weary after 9 years of waiting for her immature boyfriend (Jerry Ferrara) to pop the question. And finally, we have Mya (Meagan Good) who refuses to sleep with hot-and-bothered Zeke (Romany Malco) for 90 days after having been seduced and abandoned by her previous suitor.
Overall, the banter is so laugh-out-loud funny that I strongly urge you to sit near the front of the theater, since the audience din drowned out a lot of dialogue at the screening this critic attended. Many of the film’s most memorable moments arrive courtesy of celebs making cameo appearances, especially talk show host Wendy Williams, comedienne Luenell, hunky Morris Chestnut, The View’s Sherri Shepherd, singer Chris Brown, pro basketball players Ron Artest and Lisa Leslie, and Steve Harvey himself.
Still, I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to forewarn that the picture’s politically-incorrect brand of humor is apt to offend those sensitive about homophobia, misogyny and the use of the N-word. One only hopes all is forgotten, if not necessarily forgiven, by the time the canoodling couples disappear into the sunset.