It was something of a given that Think Like a Man was going to get a sequel. The film, inspired by the advice in Steve Harvey’s best-selling advice book and featuring an all-star black cast, grossed more than $33 million during its opening weekend and went on to clear nearly $96 million at the box office. It was a surprise hit, though I’m not sure why it was a surprise. Plenty of black movies have earned good returns, but critics seem amazed every single time it happens, as if black people and nonblack people alike don’t turn out for a solid film, especially one with predominantly black folks in it.
Think Like a Man Too opens today, and there’s hope that the movie—which is loosely a black version of The Hangover, replete with an accidental drug intake and an appearance by a popular boxing champion—will bring in similar numbers. The entire cast is back, and this time they’re gathered in Las Vegas for a fun-filled weekend that includes a competition over who can have the most fun between the bachelor and bachelorette parties, as well as the nuptials for Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins). The couple are still figuring out how to deal with his meddling mother, who this time extends her overbearing nature to the rest of the cast, too.
The storyline has all the trappings of what good romantic comedies are made of: attractive, likable actors with chemistry and a glitzy setting. It should work, but as a whole it doesn’t quite do the job. Think Like a Man Too, whose first film was adored by many, suffers from a classic sophomore jinx in that in its gallant effort to duplicate the success of the original, it just does too much. There are individual scenes that work well—there’s a cute moment at the bachelorette party when the girls party to “Poison,” and anything with even a glimpse of Michael Ealy is magic—but overall, they never gel into a cohesive storyline. If the movie were chopped into a series of Funny or Die clips, it would have been brilliant.
For a rom-com, one based on a dating-and-relationship advice book, it’s also extraordinarily light on relationships. Each of the returning couples has a new set of issues. Corporate-ladder climber Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) is mulling a job offer that will take her away from her boyfriend, Dominic (Michael Ealy). Mya (Meagan Good) is hung up on Zeek’s (Romany Malco) playboy past. And Kristen (Gabrielle Union), who is somehow still in the unlikeliest relationship ever with Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), wants to have his baby. (Is Union typecast or what?) Jeremy, of course, isn’t ready. Each of these major conflicts is worthy of being explored in depth, but as quickly as they’re laid out, they are tidied up with little more than a single conversation.
Part of the shortcoming here is the sheer number of people in the film to be tended to—including three white cast mates who add little to the story and seem to be there for the movie’s crossover appeal. The other part is the overwhelming focus of the film on Kevin Hart’s antics (as Cedric, the best man); the glitz of Vegas—the film is practically a tourism guide; and the occasionally funny, if predictable, shenanigans that ensue during the girls’ and guys’ night out.
There is an upside to the film, though. Many people (including me) have complained about the number of sad, single-black-woman stories that dominate the media, as if black women never, ever have relationships or get married. Think Like a Man Too plays up black commitment and presents it as wholly normal and doesn’t vilify its single characters as dysfunctional. The film might be disjointed, but you won’t leave the theater feeling depressed.
Also on The Root:
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Follow her on Twitter.