Self-help book translates surprisingly well
It used to be that men were from Mars and women were from Venus, but in 2009 comedian Steve Harvey wrote the bestseller “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” causing both genders to rethink intimate relationships. Now it’s been cleverly turned into a rom-com with a great cast.
Harvey’s book suggests that if a woman wants her relationships to succeed, she has to smarten up and start thinking like a man does. For Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), this isn’t a stretch. She’s a high-powered female executive already in a man’s world who would prefer that her man’s paycheck match hers. But she might have to adjust her goal to someone more downwardly mobile. Mya (Meagan Good) makes the mistake of thinking a one-night stand is going to go the distance, so she’s a good candidate for Harvey’s 90-day rule. Candace (Regina Hall) is a single mother back in the dating game, so she’s got to have the right guy for her little guy, and Kristen (Gabrielle Union) is stuck in a going-nowhere relationship with her Peter Pan college boyfriend.
The men these women fall for represent Harvey’s somewhat stereotypical romantic types —The Dreamer (Michael Ealy), The Player (Romany Malco), Mama’s Boy (Terrence J) and the Non-Committer (Jerry Ferrara).
Kevin Hart plays the fast talking comedy relief, and R&B singer Chris Brown has a bit part as a former hook up of Mya’s. Brown’s appearance is a bit awkward considering his recent headlines as one of the characters confesses to being abused by a spouse. Another poor choice in an otherwise mildly humorous movie is the go-to joke about gays — not once but twice in this film. It’s crass, unnecessary and uncool for a pretty cool movie.
Tim Story directs with an eye for showing off his good looking cast, while the sets are sleek and modern with the movie filmed in and around L.A. Harvey appears as himself plugging the book on talk shows and speaking directly to the camera, quoting from the book as each of these women decides to take his advice and starts getting results. But the tables turn when the guys discover what’s going on. With their own copies of the book, they can stay one step ahead of the ladies.
With four couples crowded into a two-hour movie, no one gets a fair share of screen time —this movie’s biggest issue. If the situations seem glossed over and trivialized, blame it on having to split the action four ways and still have time for Hart to steal all his scenes.
I haven’t read Harvey’s book, but if it guarantees the happy endings that are found in this movie, then no wonder it’s a best seller.