LOS ANGELES (AP) — Based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling, comic relationship advice tome “Act Like a Lady,” ”Think Like a Man,” was a box-office hit two years ago, so it’s not surprising that it’s been accorded a sequel. Featuring the entire original ensemble, including Kevin Hart, as well as several new additions to the cast, “Think Like a Man Too” is a frantic, overstuffed follow-up that, with its Las Vegas setting, more closely resembles a “Hangover” sequel than its relatively restrained predecessor. While the film seems poised for major box-office success, it mainly squanders the talents of its talented cast and is bound to test the patience of more discriminating audiences.
Each of the first film’s four couples are again facing relationship issues. Mama’s boy Michael (Terrence J) and single mother Candace (Regina Hall) are about to get married, much to the consternation of his overbearing mother, Loretta (Jenifer Lewis). Newlyweds Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union) are at odds over her desperate desire to get pregnant. Lauren’s (Taraji P. Henson) and Dominic’s (Michael Ealy) relationship is threatened when she receives a lucrative job offer that entails moving to New York. And Mya (Meagan Good) is unable to get over her discomfort with Zeke’s (Romany Malco) reputation as a player, especially when he’s greeted in his old stomping grounds as “Zeke the Freak.”
Also on hand are the group’s dorky friend Bennett (Gary Owen) and his fashion-challenged wife, Tish (the reliably amusing Wendi Mclendon-Covey); Mya’s best friend, Sonia (La La Anthony); and Michael’s former fraternity brothers Isaac (Adam Brody) and Terrell (David Walton).
And of course there’s Cedric (Hart), the height-impaired lothario — now on a trial separation from his shrewish wife, Gail (Wendy Williams) — who mistakenly assumes the role of Michael’s best man for the wedding and impulsively books a lavish hotel suite, complete with a private British butler, that he thinks is $4,000 a night but actually costs 10 times that.
If that description seems overwhelming, the film, which juggles so many characters and situations that it’s exhausting simply trying to keep up, is no less so. Director Tim Story and screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman seem mainly intent on exploiting the Vegas setting to the nth degree, with the proceedings practically coming across as a paid advertisement for Caesars Palace.
Hart is clearly the dominant presence with his motormouthed line delivery and manic physicality, but while he scores plenty of laughs, he’s also forced to perform such embarrassing scenes as a Risky Business parody in which he frenziedly dances around his hotel suite in his underwear. The rest of the action is divided between so many characters that few of the performers manage to make much of an impression, with the exception of Lewis as the domineering mother who enjoys a one-night stand with the suave, smooth talking “Uncle Eddie” (Dennis Haysbert).
Making a token nod to its literary inspiration with relationship-oriented narration by Hart that barely makes an impression, the film relies on such cliched plot elements as the men reluctantly joining an amateur male stripper contest in an attempt to make enough money to pay for the hotel suite — much to the surprise of their women who have ventured to the club for a bachelorette party. There’s also the requisite comic shopping montage, and a faux music video in which the distaff castmembers lip-sync to Bell Biv DeVoe’s 1990 hit “Poison.” The expected celebrity cameos include Drake and boxer Floyd Mayweather, with the latter making Mike Tyson seem a comic genius by comparison. Kelsey Grammer also shows up for a couple of scenes, to little effect.
“Think Like a Man Too,” a Sony Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material.” Running time: 106 minutes.
MPAA rating definition for PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.