'Think Like a Man Too' (PG-13)

 

A battle of the sexes, in Las Vegas.

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By Connie Ogle cogle@MiamiHerald.com

The sequel to Think Like a Man is ostensibly a battle-of-the-sexes comedy about a group of friends who travel to Las Vegas for a wedding. But really, it’s about Kevin Hart. The movie makes the expected token nods to the difficulties of coupledom — how to reconcile a lover’s checkered past, how to know when you’re ready to get married or have children, how to cope with an intrusive parent, how to weigh a big career decision against staying with your partner. But the undeniable star is the diminutive comedian. He’s the glue that holds the movie together when it wanders into the weeds and starts believing it’s a serious meditation on relationships.

Freed from its ties to the source material — the first film was inspired by a Steve Harvey self-help book — Think Like a Man Too borrows liberally but in a definite PG-13 fashion from The Hangover, hitting on every required Vegas touchstone (strippers, boozing, gambling, wretched excess). There’s even a cameo by a boxer.

Getting married are mama’s boy Michael (Terrence Jenkins) and Candace (Regina Hall), despite the grim and disapproving presence of Michael’s mother (Jenifer Lewis). There for the festivities are Jeremy (Jerry Ferrera) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union), who are already married and working on having a baby; former playboy Zeke (Romany Malco) and Mya (Meagan Good), who is less than thrilled with the number of people in Vegas who seem to know her boyfriend as “Zeke the Freak”; dreamy chef Dominic (Michael Ealy) and businesswoman Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), still hot and heavy but about to face a couple of career challenges; and Bennett (Gary Owen) and Tish (Wendy McLendon Covey), the old married couple used as foils for white people/nerd jokes (he wants to play slots and see Jersey Boys; she wears twin sets and can’t walk in heels).

The best man, of course, is Cedric (Hart), who’s on a break from his wife and determined to wreak as much havoc as possible.

The plot, such as there is, revolves around a challenge: Who will have a wilder, better night in Vegas, the men or the women? It’s not much to hang a movie on, but the hijinks are amusing and include an extremely funny video montage using the old Bel Biv Devoe classic Poison. Download it now if you don’t have it, because you’re going to want it after you see the scene.

Best of all, there’s Hart. Director Tim Story, who also worked with the comedian in the less funny Ride Along, trusts his star enough to give him free rein, and Hart puts on a show, preening, shouting, strutting, threatening, begging, groveling, showing off his best Risky Business moves (only this time to Pitbull, not Bob Seger). If you think there’s nothing funny left in this arsenal? Think again.

Cast: Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, Wendy McLendon Covey, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson,, Terrence Jenkins, Regina Hall, Adam Brody, Gary Owen.

Director: Tim Story.

Screenwriters: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman. Based on the book by Steve Harvey.

A Screen Gems release. Running time: 106 minutes. Crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material. Opens Friday June 20 at area theaters.

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