A $91 million take on a $12 million budget all but guaranteed a sequel to the sprawling romantic comedy “Think Like a Man.” But praise goes to director Tim Story for cranking out a lively follow-up that doesn’t reek of a calculated cash grab.
More than a dozen principles getting nearly equal screen time is hardly the recipe for clarity. And Story heaps even more characters into the mix for “Think Like a Man Too.” (All but Steve Harvey, whose book inspired the first flick.) To rein in the herd, he sets the action in one place over the course of one day. Vegas, baby.
The gang reunites at Caesar’s Palace for the wedding of single mom Candace (Regina Hall) and soft-spoken Michael (Terrence Jenkins), who is still burdened by the expectations of his smothering mom, Loretta (Jenifer Lewis).
Oft-divorced motormouth Cedric (Kevin Hart, who narrates the proceedings) handles best man chores while grossly underestimating the cost of booking the group’s luxury suite.
“We’re here to make bad decisions and regret it later,” explains Zeke (Romany Malco), who together with the rest of the crew (Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara and Gary Owen) gear up to board the party bus that will bring them to bachelor party revelry.
Meanwhile, their significant others (Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good and Wendi McLendon-Covey) hope to outperform the men during a bachelorette evening. But Loretta issues her future daughter-in-law a written mandate of the do’s and don’ts of said parties. A curfew. No strippers. Etc. (“Bridesmaids” star McLendon-Covey should also have warned them to not mix drugs and alcohol.)
The men’s and women’s evenings disastrously intersect in ways that are often predictable but usually amusing.
“Think Like a Man Too” ultimately rests on the charm of its cast, an appealing mix of 30- and 40-somethings. Had this been a batch of 20-year-olds, the movie might have come across more crass, more frat party. But there’s a lived-in feel to these characters. Their camaraderie feels deeper because of the maturity involved.
Story (who directed Hart in “Ride Along”) keeps the pace crackling. And the images are engaging: In a pot-fueled club scene, the bachelorettes suddenly become part of a music video set to the Bel Biv DeVoe track “Poison.” And while the men are seated around a table at a strip club, dancers keep interrupting the sightline of their discussions. It’s not played for laughs or titillation, but instead a clever way to spice up a conversation.
Headliner Hart has obviously blown up since the 2012 original, appearing in six features during that interim. He shows no signs of going through the motions yet, starting this film at a fever pitch and growing increasingly manic as his financial castle crumbles. All this while taunted by Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” on the soundtrack.
“I’m the worst best man ever,” he bellows.
Even with an ensemble as confident as his “Think” co-stars, there’s the sense Hart always believes a movie rests on his 5-foot, 2-inch frame. If the movie were a stalled party bus, he’d be the first to get out and start pushing.
‘THINK LIKE A MAN TOO’
Rated PG-13 | Time: 1:46