Review: Ensemble comedy 'Think Like a Man' brings genuine laughs

Successful businesswoman Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) enjoys her date with broke prep cook Dominic (Michael Ealy) in "Think Like a Man."

Photo by Ron Batzdorff, © 2012 Screen Gems Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PR

Successful businesswoman Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) enjoys her date with broke prep cook Dominic (Michael Ealy) in "Think Like a Man."

Think Like a Man follows four interconnected and diverse men whose love lives are shaken up after the ladies they are pursuing buy Harvey's book ...

Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use

Length: 122 minutes

Released: May 30, 2013 Nationwide

Cast: Kevin Hart, Arielle Kebbel, Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson

Director: Tim Story

Writer: Keith Merryman, Steve Harvey

More info and showtimes »

Strangely enough, "Think Like A Man" isn't the first movie based on a self-help book, but it may be the best. I'm not counting on the upcoming "What to Expect When You're Expecting" to top it. You never know, I know, but I am pretty sure that in this case, I know.

Whatever the truth may be, "Think Like a Man" is better than the last movie of its kind, "He's Just Not That Into You," which also took a book of relationship advice and somehow beat and stretched and stuffed it into the shape of an ensemble romantic comedy. "Think Like a Man" uses a similar formula — a group of men and women engage in various emotional skirmishes — but it doesn't dabble in too much sincerity, never takes its silly premise too seriously and is genuinely funny, even though you're pretty sure you've heard a lot of these he said/she said jokes before.

Director Tim Story, who put together another fine comedy ensemble in "Barbershop," has assembled a good group here, too. There are the guys (Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrera, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco), who play basketball, hang out together and brag and/or moan about the women in their lives. "Think Like a Man" neatly sticks each into a category — dreamer, non-committer, mama's boy, player — and then sets about pairing them up with women (Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union) whose hopes are quite different.

The women, you see, are tired of disappointment and have realigned their romantic goals after reading Steve Harvey's "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," which argues that women need to understand how men think in order to ensnare them. (If you're looking for a 21st century feminist manifesto, you will need to look elsewhere.)

Thus the good-time girl disappointed by yet another one-night stand (Good) vows to stick to Harvey's 90-days-without-sex rule — and meets the player (Malco), who is more of a maybe-90-seconds-without-sex rule kind of guy. The female half of the longtime couple (Union) starts redecorating the home that looks like a frat house; the male half (Ferrera) screams for his missing anime posters. The single mom (Hall) gets mixed up with the mama's boy (Jenkins), and the successful businesswoman (Henson) who wants an equally successful guy falls for the prep cook who's broke but has eyes to die for (Ealy). Orbiting them all like an insane comet is their angry divorced pal (the hilarious Kevin Hart), who shrieks about his ex so much you just know there's got to be more to the story than he's letting on.

Naturally, the guys — whose banter is the best thing about the movie — find out about the book, curse Harvey as a traitor to his gender and try to turn the tables, which inevitably ends badly. But fear not. "Think Like A Man" isn't about to leave you sad or unfulfilled. It's all about making everybody happy. If that's not grounds for a good relationship, then I don't know what is.

© 2012 Knoxville.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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