2 Stars – Troubling

Steve Harvey wrote his best-selling book “Act Like a Woman, Think Like A Man” in 2009 to share his experiences and wisdom on relationships.  In bringing his advice to the big screen, Harvey partnered with screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman who wrote the dialogue for the explicit and sometimes vulgar “Friends with Benefits.”  As producer of the film, Harvey secured the directing skills of Tim Story due to his work on such films as “Taxi” and “Barbershop.”  Combining the forces of these artists produces a work that is a fascinating combination of moral counsel, relationship manipulation, gender and racial stereotypes, and raunchy comedy in an expose on modern dating relationships.

The storylines acted out by the ensemble cast are based on the various chapters of the book and explain how different men look for and need different things from the women in their lives.  The “player” Zeke (Romany Malco) has avoided meaningful relationships by seeking only sex and needs to be taught to love the woman first.  The “mama’s boy” is Michael (Terrence Jenkins) whose single mother has inappropriately bonded him to her and he must learn to choose to prioritize the woman who could become his wife over his mother.  The man who has lived nine years with his woman but will not commit to marriage is Jeremy (Jerry Fararra) who must take responsibility to commit to both a career and marriage.  The underachiever who has finished culinary school but still works as a waiter and parking attendant is Dominic (Michael Ealy) who needs to take action to achieve his dreams.  And the mouthy divorcee who needs to realize that he still loves his wife and their tumultuous relationship is Cedric (Kevin Hart).  All of these men share the basketball court, rowdy friendship and open discussion of the relationships they have with the women in their lives.

Balancing these men are a beautiful group of women whose unique journeys cause them to become catalytic in the lives of the men as they begin to apply the lessons learned in Harvey’s book.  Coming to understand that they have been duped by the rules of dating in the modern world, they begin to understand and respect themselves as they begin to expect more from their men.  These women include Mya (Meagan Good), Candace (Regina Hall), Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), Kristen (Gabrielle Union), and Sonja (La La Anthony). 

Although the comedy is sometimes formulaic, and the tensions and resolutions are often predictable, the film has a clear morality that reflects Harvey’s views.  However, the lack of any positive spiritual values in the lives of these men and women helps explain why they are faltering in finding their way in the dating world as well as in life.

“Think Like a Man” is a funny adult comedy about the modern dating scene.  Though it deserves at least its PG-13 rating, many viewers will find some truth in the lessons taught in spite of the sexually explicit dialogue.

Discussion for those who have seen this film:

1. In the modern dating scene, sexual union seems to be expected before marriage.  What do you think this does not only to the ability of a person to be faithful after marriage but also to the expectations of male and female relationships?

2. The predictable discovery that the women are reading Harvey’s book but are offended when the men also read the book to counter their actions reveals how the whole experience of dating is seen as a “game” and a “battlefield.”  It is only when each person becomes sincere and stops playing the games and strategizing the schemes is true love found.  Do you believe this lesson is adequate to counteract the “new morality” of modern dating?

3. The advice to introduce your date to your children from a previous marriage early in the relationship so they can get to know and care for each other seems both reasonable and risky.  What do you think is the best plan and why?

Posted on January 14, 2014 and filed under 2 STARS, TROUBLING.