It’s quite a feat to create a movie that seems both misogynist and misandrist at the same time, but that’s probably because this is a film based on a self-help book, and so like most self-help books about relationships, it seems to assume men and women are essentially completely different species, and also that they’re all pretty stupid. However, if you can accept that the characters here are essentially parodies of real people (at least I hope so and that I’m not giving the human race too much credit), there is some measure of entertainment to be had here, even if it goes on way too long and suffers from the fact its multiple stories often mean we have to have the same scene over and over.
Based on comedian Steve Harvey’s self-help book, ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’ (and often coming across like an extended infomercial for that tome), the film follows four couples who are essentially split into female and male camps. Kristen (Gabrielle Union) and Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) have been together for years, but he’s essentially still living a frat existence and has no desire to move on with his life. Mya (Meagan Good) doesn’t want to sleep with her new man, Zeke (Romany Malco), until 90 days are up, but he’s not so keen on that. Candace (Regina Hall) has to contend with the fact her man, Michael (Terrence J), always puts his mother first. Finally there’s businesswoman Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), who preference for dating powerful, wealthy men is challenged when she meets up-and-comer Dominic (Michael Ealy).
Just from those brief sentences you can probably piece the major elements of each of these plotlines together. The film’s conceit is that Harvey’s book is presented as a kind of miracle tell-all tome that allows women to perfectly understand the male mind. The women get hold of the book and try to use it get their men to move in the direction they want them too (except for Lauren, who’s apparently too much like a man herself, and so thinks it’s a load of rubbish). However the men stumble upon this plan, and so decide to read the book themselves, so they can give the impression they’re ‘stepping up’, while actually getting exactly what they want. But what will happen when the women cotton on?
It’s essentially an entire film about how the only way to get what you want in a relationship is through manipulation, as actual straightforward communication between men and women is apparently impossible. Everybody learns their lesson, although I can’t escape the feeling that it’s not always the right lesson to learn. It is all mildly entertaining, but the film’s idea that only Steve Harvey can unlock the secrets of the male mind to women is rather undermined by the fact there’s little he’s got to say that isn’t already a well-known cliché. It would also be nice if the film didn’t present a successful relationship as essentially one person having to capitulate to somebody else. It’s not a film that really seems to prize compromise.
What annoys me about films like this is that constantly present relationships in a way that isn’t about reality, but makes people think it is because that’s what they see so often on screen. Yes it works, but it’s somewhat patronising and insists on presenting people as oblivious idiots. Perhaps many are, but a little more subtlety wouldn’t hurt. If nothing else, I’ll bet the film has sold a lot of copies of Harvey’s book.
There’s not much in the way of special features. Just a few deleted scenes and a gag reel.
Overall Verdict: A mildly diverting ensemble rom com, which is rather undermined by the fact its idea of people and relationships is rather simplistic and dumb.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac