Contrary to what Hollywood bigwigs insist on believing, not every good movie merits a sequel. Case in point: two years ago, Tim Story delighted us with his “adaptation” of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, wherein four couples use Steve Harvey’s self-help book as the main weapon in their war of the sexes. Among the best in the genre, his anthology rom-com introduced smart, charming characters and left them exactly where we want them, raising the question of why the director would risk pulling the rug from under these perfect little love stories to bring us Think Like a Man Too.
Mind you, I understand anyone coming out of Think Like a Man (2012) eager to see more of this particular group. Story has assembled a superb cast, whether in terms of comedic talent or equal-opportunity eye candy, and Think Like a Man Too provides each of its stars with enough material to remind us of their former glory. For Kevin Hart, though, that also means enough rope to hang himself, as his pathologically self-absorbed character, Cedric, quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns and, much like Stiffler from American Pie (1999), steps wholeheartedly into “I want to punch you in the face” territory by the second act.
Think Like a Man mitigated Hart’s relentless exuberance by switching between four different storylines that didn’t involve him, but here we get only two parallel threads, as the men and women split off for a night of Las Vegas debauchery before Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael’s (Terrence Jenkins) wedding. Improbable slapstick ensues, complete with male stripping, accidental drug consumption, a magical butler (Jim Piddock), and a musical number breaking the fourth wall. How this tired premise relates to the first film, Harvey’s book, or the title Think Like a Man Too escapes me, but there you have it.
In fairness, the sequel does stay true to each of its eleven returning characters, which is no small accomplishment. Consider the subtle touches in Think Like a Man Too, such as when Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) estimates Kristen’s (Gabrielle Union) time of ovulation in accordance with Comic-Con, reminding us of their dorky passions. I also like the way Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) keeps Dominic (Michael Ealy) in the dark when she’s offered a promotion that would require her moving away. It’s not that she minds including him in her career decisions, but old habits die hard.
Unfortunately, Think Like a Man Too wraps up the thread, and indeed all of its subplots, like a bad sitcom, relying on corny proclamations and unlikely twists of fate. I wish screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman had taken the time to evolve these diverse personalities instead of rehashing the same basic arcs as in the previous flick and cranking up the goofy. Why, for instance, is Mya (Meagan Good) still hung up on the fact that Zeke (Romany Malco) used to be a player? Better yet, how did Michael’s mom, Loretta (Jenifer Lewis), change from overbearing parent enabled by a codependent son to vicious monster-in-law who favours the company of, gasp, Bennet’s (Gary Owen) waspy spouse?
Yes, we finally get to meet Trish in Think Like a Man Too, and, well, I don’t like her. Maybe it’s because Wendi McLendon-Covey refuses to crack a smile in her portrayal of the chronically plain soccer mom. It doesn’t help either that our heroines spend the first hour trying to ditch the woman along with Loretta. However, my main issue lies in Bennet expressing so much devotion for his wife in Think Like a Man that I expected her to be awesome (and worldly for whatever reason), not some Old Navy reject spouting small-minded pearls of wisdom like, “With boys, you need only worry about their penis. With girls, you’ve got to check everyone else’s!”
Right, lady, all men are sexual predators, and women are defined by their ability to keep their virginity. Is that vomit I’m tasting in the back of my throat? I can hardly believe the same creative team responsible for the genuinely insightful Think Like a Man could produce such schlock as Think Like a Man Too. Sure, the movie’s got a few bright spots, like Adam Brody and David Walton as Michael’s pathologically open-minded college buddies: “I’m digging the gay vibe, man!” However, if you’re looking for a worthy follow-up to the original with largely the same cast and themes, you’re better off checking out Steve Pink’s About Last Night (2014).