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Bad self-help book becomes funny onscreen

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Think Like a Man is the worst self-help book to be adapted into a movie since Helen Gurly Brown's Sex and the Single Girl. Brown, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, wrote the book in 1962 and, three years later, the Natalie Wood-Tony Curtis movie version followed. However, Think Like a Man, the movie, is at least funny.

Director Tim Story (Barbershop) enlisted the screenwriters of Friends with Benefits to help adapt Steve Harvey's New York Times bestseller, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, into a movie.

In the movie, a group of women use Harvey's book as a type of weapon against the men in their lives. But the tables turn once one of the guys reads the book and shares it with his buddies.

And so, based on the lessons in this movie, here is some advice for the filmmakers.

1. A single mom always trumps a mama's boy.

And that's why, in the game of seeing who can out-manoeuvre whom (the mother or the boy), there is no contest, making this pairing the most inconsequential of the movie's four relationships.

2. Men respect standards -- so get some.

Don't change the player, change the game. Mya (Meagan Good) falls for, and hooks up with, the film's players all too easily. Chris Brown -- yes, that Chris Brown -- has an unfortunate recurring cameo as one of the cads.

3. Set reasonable and manageable goals.

Short-term goals: If you used to star in an HBO show as a member of your famous friend's entourage and are now playing a slacker, you still have to work at it. Jerry Ferrara (Turtle, from Entourage) plays a graphic designer who refuses to grow up. His girlfriend (Gabrielle Union) has patiently -- and inexplicably -- been waiting for him to propose for nine long years. If you have told your long-suffering girlfriend that you'd rather watch Letters to Juliet with her again than help redecorate, and she strips your shared loft of its beloved college collections, then you have permission to complain that she has turned your fortress of solitude into Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Long-term goals: These cannot merely include shooting hoops three nights a week and chronic bong hits. After the latter, when you contemplate what's in your future, it can't just be "droids -- there have to be droids." You are not Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons.

4. A cameo (or three) can't hurt.

To round out an ensemble cast with already overlapping, intersecting vignettes that sometimes lag, a smattering of well-timed cameos can never hurt: Kelly Rowland as a girl who gets picked up; Wendy Williams as an ex-girlfriend; and Sherri Shepherd as an Oprah-like talk-show host are all solid choices. Filmed in Los Angeles, the city is practically its own character; with its glossy interiors and skylines, it all looks incredible.

5. Hire a real movie star.

Taraji P. Henson is luminous as Lauren. The Oscar-nominated actress steals every scene she's in, especially those that pair her high-powered executive with Dominic (Michael Ealy, of TV's The Good Wife). They have the most credible relationship and chemistry of any of the couples, making it the best thing about this movie.

6. Don't use yourself as the shill.

The movie is, overall, a rather shameless, self-aggrandizing infomercial. Steve Harvey himself appears throughout the film on TV screens, to smugly deliver his own pat advice.

-- Postmedia News

Other Voices

Selected excerpts from reviews of Think Like a Man.

The execution almost overcomes the thinking in Think Like a Man. Almost.

-- Tom Long, Detroit News

Though it is funny -- at times, laugh-out-loud funny -- this comedy is by and for adults.

-- Mick la Salle, San Francisco Chronicle

A running joke is that Mr. Harvey has thrown men under the bus by giving away their secrets. But, gents, if they were secrets they wouldn't be clichés.

-- Rachel Saltz, New York Times

Even though Think Like a Man espouses something akin to the philosophy in Beyoncé's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), it makes manipulation more fun than it ought to be.

-- Claudia Puig, USA Today

For all the laughs, Harvey's thesis -- that women have to expect more from the arrested-development crowd that make up "the men of this generation" -- rings true.

-- Roger Moore, McClatchy Tribune Newspapers

Think Like A Man isn't the first movie based on a self-help book, but it may be the best.

-- Connie Ogle, Miami Herald

An ensemble piece that packs more easy enjoyment than I was expecting or, even now, care to admit to.

--Richard Corliss, Time magaziine

Male/female relationships unfold as a constant power struggle, and the guys instinctively choose lying over truth every time.

-- Matt Pais, RedEye

One of the more unpromising comedies of the year has turned out ... pretty funny.

-- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

A romantic comedy that represents a clash between a very likable cast and a rather unappealing storyline.

-- Tim Griersion , Screen International

-- Compiled by Shane Minkin

Movie Review

Think Like a Man

Starring Chris Brown, Gabrielle Union and Kevin Hart

St. Vital


122 minutes

Three stars out of five

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2012 D4

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