By Will Ashton
Despite a seemingly mixed-to-negative critical response upon its release, Think Like a Man apparently found itself some fans, some of which include people of whom have earned my critical respect.
Comedy is subjective, so I can’t really say that what they found funny was wrong necessarily. But I can say that the film, which was a very loose adaptation of Steve Harvey’s “self-help” book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, was generic, unimaginative, and, oddly enough, pretty cheap-looking. If it pleased people, God bless, but I didn’t get it. What people saw in that movie—if they were among the ones that did see anything—I’ll never know.
Regardless, I tried my hardest to keep an open mind with its sequel, Think Like a Man Too. Like any movie, I go into it hoping for the best, and, in this case, maybe expecting the worst (it does have Kevin Hart in it, after all). Needless to say, Think Like a Man Too is yet another tired, unimaginative comedy that, like the original, tries to coast by on the charm of its cast, but ends up becoming a loud, seemingly endless bore.
Featuring all the characters you “loved”—or, if you’re like me, barely remember—from the first movie, the gang is “back together” again. This time, they’re going to Vegas, as one of the couples finds themselves on the verge of getting hitched. Uh oh. Marriage?! You know what that means, it’s time for bachelor AND bachelorette parties!
For reasons that are never really addressed, the couples are apparently battling each other to see who will end up having a better night. Then, stuff happens and people yell and then, plot.
The biggest indirect challenge that this sequel has to overcome is that it comes just a week after 22 Jump Street stomped its way into theaters. While I don’t think that that movie was quite as great as some are making it out to be, overall, it is still a solid sequel. While extremely self-aware (in my opinion, to a fault) it knows its limitations, and does what it can to overcome them. Through witty writing and strong chemistry, it became a respectable and fairly good film. Not on par, but pretty close to being as good as the original.
It’s with that movie so fresh in mind that Think Like a Man Too becomes worst. For this sequel is particularly the type of movie that 22 Jump Street is trying to make fun of. It gets all of its characters back, but it literally builds itself off of zero plot, and decides that it’ll just have the characters go to Vegas (something that hasn’t already in done in, like, a thousand comedies already) and let them have a ball.
Which can be fine enough, if we, the audience, get to join in on the laughs, but we don’t. Think Like a Man Too is one of the most unnecessary sequels I have ever seen. Now, of course, most sequels are unnecessary, but those who work try to make it worth our while. They will try to build up its universe (like How to Train Your Dragon 2 did last week) or expand upon its characters and their relationships.
This movie doesn’t do any of those things. It just hopes around, laying on the tired comedic clichés and tiresomely long bits that don’t progress anything in the plot. It makes for not only a frustrating viewing experience, but one that makes you question why they even bothered to make this movie in the first place (besides the obvious reason).
The cast has ok chemistry together, but not enough to where they can really make the clunky bits manageable (like 22 Jump Street did…alright, I’ll try to stop mentioning that movie now. I get it.). They seem comfortable with one another, and probably had a fun time making the movie. But they can’t really use their strengths to build off one another, or to make anybody seem fun or interesting.
This means that the filmmakers have to push Hart into overdrive again, releasing their Tasmanian Devil out on the loose in another parade of painfully bad comedy from the “comedic” actor.
I have said it once, and I will say it again: Hart only works in small doses. The only movie that I have seen of late that actually made him work was This is the End, and they were gracious enough to kill him off (AND Aziz Ansari) in the first 25 minutes. If only we were so lucky to have watch his character here have the same fate.
Hart isn’t more or less annoying than he was in Ride Along or About Last Night or even the first Think Like a Man movie, because it’s the same character. Every. Single. Time. Listen, if people like it, then they like it. Again, comedy is subjective, and I’m sure there are more than a few things that I find funny that people find as grating and annoying as I find Hart. But can he please, please just change it up for once? Even if people find it funny, it’s getting old. In fact, it’s getting really, really old. Either have his fifteen minutes of fame up soon, or change it up.
Think Like a Man Too plays out as what I feel like would happen if Tyler Perry decided to go full-Adam Sandler mode on his films. Not only is it unfunny, but it’s just plain lazy. For a little bit, this sequel does feel like it has a slight advantage to the original, as it doesn’t needlessly put in melodrama for these characters. But, of course, that soon changes as the final act spills out.
The only actor here that really gets any response comically is Gary Owen. I can’t tell if his lines were improvised a lot of the time, or he just made them amusing, but his dry, mumbled delivery are the only lines here (besides one joke involving chains) that are in any way, shape or form amusing. The biggest sin this movie cast is that it gets great comedic actors like Kelsey Grammar and Cheryl Hines for bit roles but literally gives them nothing to do. Meanwhile, Hart is still screaming on the top of his lungs for the 23453452 time.
This marks the second movie this year for director Tim Story, who also helmed the aforementioned Ride Along. Not that he was ever a great director, but considering that he made at least the first Barbershop movie, he seems to know at least a couple things about ensemble comedy. Where that knowledge went is a mystery to me. More than anything else, Think Like a Man Too is a boring movie. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and even the film’s attempts to coast on the charm of its cast are wiry at best.