Friday, June 20, 2014

'Think Like a Man Too' Leaves Its Source Material for Las Vega$; 'Jersey Boys' Leave Newark for the Top

These women mean business in "Think Like a Man Too." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

IT'S summertime and the livin' is easy …

Fasten you seatbelts, Dear Readers, because this probably won't be the last time you read that line on these pages. Officially, summer commences tomorrow morning, but for all intents and purposes ... The catchphrase is my version of, “It is what it is.”

Speaking of which, “Think Like a Man Too.” The sequel to “Think Like a Man,” which was inspired by Steve Harvey's delightful, delicious, damning best-seller, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” opens in U.S. theaters today. (http://www.bit.ly/1pQ4g3Y; see video below)

In the spirit of full disclosure, Yours Truly has not seen this film (scheduling conflict) from pretty much the same team as the first one. However, I have seen a film's worth of trailers. My reportback is that “Think Like Man Too” is not a sequel of the “The Godfather Part II and Part III” variety.

The thread on which hangs this one is the impending nuptials of cute couple Michael (Terrence J) and Candace (Regina Hall), with meddling mama (Jenifer Lewis) in tow. Because a wedding is involved, the action quits Los Angeles for Las Vegas. And everybody knows what happens in Las Vegas besides bachelor and bachelorette parties.

To be clear, “Think Like a Man Too” is not a good film. It is not fine art or high cinema. It is lowbrow, and one wonders whether screenwriters David A. Newman and Keith Merryman aspired toward better.

It has as its forerunner, though, an entertainment that banked nearly $100 million worldwide on a budget of $12. Its budget is double that. While what came before it was inspired by a book, “Think Like a Man Too” is inspired by the aforementioned box office receipts. Of course, this is the conventional reasoning for franchise films.

To its credit, this romantic comedy does have a few moments, a few of them funny. Kevin Hart, who has become a box office It Boy ("Ride Along,” “About Last Night”) in two year's time, gets quite a bit of screentime as Cedric. Unfortunately, this talented comedian-actor brings with him extra servings of buffoonery. If only that talent would be channeled into cleverness!

Regardless of its place (or lack thereof) in the cinematic pantheon, “Think Like a Man Too” will probably double the box office haul of “TLAM” for several reasons. First, it has a built-in audience. It boasts a cast of mostly black actors portraying the upwardly mobile class, always a sight for sore eyes in mass media as this group continues to overcome. They are universally good at their craft, good-looking and good-natured. Though these players are involved in puerile, banal business, they don't slip into the muck.

Finally, “Think Like a Man Too” will do well because … it's summertime. You know the rest.

Also opening today is “Jersey Boys.” Clint Eastwood's film is based on the smash Tony award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. It tracks the rise of the young men who would become the pop singing sensation, The Four Seasons, from the mean streets of Newark to the top of the record charts. (See video below).

"Think Like a Man Too" is rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material; visit http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thinklikeamantoo/ to learn more about the film.

“Jersey Boys” is rated R for language throughout; visit http://www.jerseyboysmovie.com/ to learn more about the film.

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