Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Dennis Haysbert, Gary Owen, Wendi McLendon-Covey
Directed by Tim Story (feature-film directorial debut)
Kevin Hart's Cedric - and his group of friends - return to the big screen for the sequel to the 2012 hit comedy, Think Like a Man, which was based on the best-selling book of the same name by Steve Harvey. In Think Like a Man Too (opening today) the group travels to Las Vegas for the bachelor/bachelorette party and wedding celebration of two of their own.
There is nothing more played out than the "trip to Vegas" storyline in a comedy, where someone is surely going to utter the cliched phrase, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." On some level, we can already anticipate that we are going to see strippers, lots of alcohol and things getting way, way out of hand. But Think Like a Man Too succeeds when it shouldn't, based not only on the strength of Kevin Hart's comedic prowess, but on the likeability of the characters and actors introduced to us in the first film. This is a band of friends that we want to see interact on-screen.
The soon-to-be married couple is Candace (Regina Hall), the single mother from the first film and Michael (Terrence J), the complete mama's boy. Yes, his mother (played by the deliciously graceful Jenifer Lewis) returns too, to ensure that her son has a tasteful ceremony. Kevin Hart - once again on the outs with his giant wife Gail (Wendy Williams, in a minor role) has "accidentally" been named the best man and he "accidentally" books the Presidential Suite at one of the Vegas hotels, ensuring a luxurious time. Couples that we met in the first movie are now having some issues as their relationships have gone to the next level: There is Zeke (Romany Malco) and Mya (Meagan Good), where Zeke's history and reputation are catching up to him, and then there's Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), Dominic (Michael Ealy), Kristen (Gabrielle Union) and Bennett (Gary Owen) all with their own new set of problems. Adding a bit of flair to the party are newcomers, Bennett's conservative wife, Tish (Wendi McLendon-Covey), "cousins" Terrell (David Walton) and Isaac (Adam Brody) and the hotel-appointed butler, Declan (Jim Piddock). Dennis Haysbert's "Uncle Eddie" even shows up to woo Jenifer Lewis's tough mother character.
All comedies, I believe, should be truly judged on how funny they are and how many laughs they produce. With that criteria in mind, Think Like a Man Too is pretty hilarious. Especially compared to the first film. The first movie definitely was defined as a comedy, but it wasn't all that laugh-out-loud funny. This movie strikes a much different tone and seems to have no interest other than making the audience crack-up.
The hilarity masks the implausibility - and the banality - of the "one night in Vegas" plot. The biggest wonder of all is why the filmmakers decided to keep this film a PG-13 comedy instead of going for the more adult R-rating. We have a group of thirty-something characters dealing with adult issues and they are set in Vegas? Attempting to appeal to a younger, broader audience is the Achilles Heel of the film and keeps it from reaching truly outrageous heights.
That being said, Think Like a Man Too was surprisingly funny. Even more surprising was how endearing this group has become. They have a certain chemistry and many of the actors do more with their cliched characters than is probably necessary. But they are juggled and used effectively, with Kevin Hart getting the breathing room he deserves to shine as the cast's brightest comedic star.
I didn't realize it going in, but after conquering Vegas, I somehow feel that I could follow this group anywhere.
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