Kevin Hart is loud, abrasive, frenetic and singularly unfunny in “Think Like a Man Too”—and the same adjectives can be applied to the whole movie. It’s understandable that while the sequel is, like its predecessor, an ensemble piece, director Tim Story should have placed so much of the heavy lifting in the picture in the diminutive Hart’s hands; after all, he was the sparkplug of the first movie, and the recent success of “Ride Along” suggests that he can carry a film. But in reality a little of him goes a long way, and Hart grows increasingly annoying as the movie progresses. He would appear better served by good supporting roles than starring ones.
Of course, Hart would be helped by significantly better material than that provided for him here by David A. Newman and Keith Merryman. Though Steve Harvey’s book is again cited as the source of the script, the connection is actually pretty thin in the present instance. The first movie was predicated on the serviceable premise that the distaff side of the romantic equation had read Harvey’s book and used its prescriptions to deal with their male counterparts, and that after realizing that they were being manipulated, the men depended on the book to shape their responses. That might not have been the most brilliant of premises, but it at least provided some foundation for all the tomfoolery. But here Harvey’s book is relegated to an extraneous blurb at the end, and what the scripters provide is little more than another recycling of “The Hangover,” which already received a geriatric redo in “Last Vegas” that didn’t turn out very well.
So what we get is a trip by virtually all the previous cast, with some additions, to Nevada for the nuptials of Michael (Terrence J), the momma’s boy, to single mother Candace (Regina Hall). Unfortunately Loretta (Jenifer Lewis), his harridan mother, has taken charge of the wedding, to the distress of everybody else. That includes accidental best man Cedric (Hart), reunited with the absent Gail (Wendy Williams); the erstwhile non-committer but now-wed and trying-to-have-a-child Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and his wife Kristen (Gabrielle Union); aspiring chef Dominic (Michael Ealy)—Michael’s real best man choice—and his girlfriend, ambitious corporate exec Lauren (Taraji P. Henson); erstwhile lothario Zeke (Romany Malco) and his squeeze, designer Mya (Megan Good); and goofball Bennett (Gary Owen), who brings along his mousy, white-bread wife Tish (Wendi McLendon-Covey). Showing up late in the game are Michael’s old frat brothers Isaac (Adam Brody) and Terrell (David Walton), as well as Candace’s Uncle Eddie (Dennis Haysbert). And watching all the shenanigans with a puckish grin is Declan (Jim Piddock), the personal butler who goes along with the palatial suite Cedric has reserved for his best man duties, without realizing that he should have added another zero to the rental cost.
After some desultory revelry, which prune-faced Loretta quashes, the plot devolves into juxtaposed bachelor and bachelorette parties, with the men and women eventually winding up at a strip joint where they get into a fight that lands them all in the pokey, making it unlikely that anyone can get them to the church—sorry, outdoor chapel-like space—in time. For some reason it’s not enough for Hart to shout his way through all the jokes, slapstick and dress-up; he’s also requisitioned to serve as narrator, in which capacity for some reason he describes the men and women’s hapless adventures as a contest in which each side is trying to outdo the other in rowdiness. Of course, in the end the picture replaces the increasingly desperate comic mayhem with a heaping helping of sentiment as estranged couples find common ground and additional weddings become imminent.
The cast of “Think Too” is certainly an attractive bunch, but they all seem stranded in the script’s clumsy contrivances. None of the appealing stars get to shine, since the endless shuffling of their individual stories doesn’t give any of them a chance to stand out. Apart from Hart, particularly ill-used is newcomer McLendon-Covey, who’s forced to endure a typical “Breakfast Club”-style makeover that turns her from retiring, bespectacled housewife into a wild and crazy girl. But Lewis follows close behind as the perpetually disapproving momma who at long last undergoes an unlikely transformation. The only cast member that comes out looking well, in fact, is Piddock as the unflappable butler, the outsider who’s also positioned to serve as a genial dues ex machine in the last reel. The mere fact that he can act calm throughout, compared to all the frantic activity around him, is a major plus.
No major complaints on the technical side, though Christopher Duskin’s bright cinematography, abetted by Peter S. Eliot’s editing, is far too inclined to showcase the glitzy Las Vegas locales in what often becomes little more than a promotional video for the city. Of course, that’s characteristic of most movies shot there, so maybe it’s a prerequisite for getting the necessary clearances.
There’s plenty of opportunity for future sequels embedded in “Think Like A Man Too.” Let’s just hope the array of talent in front of the camera has better things to do and puts them off at least until it’s time for a ten-year reunion.