Kevin Hart elevated to main ‘Man’

Staff writerJune 20, 2014 

It’s the Kevin Hart Show.

From being merely one among many in a vast cast of primary performers in 2012’s “Think Like a Man,” Hart has been promoted to main man in “Think Like a Man Too.”

Reflecting his rocket rise to superstardom since the release of that first “Man,” Hart has the literal first word – in a voiceover – in “Man Too” and also the last. In between, it’s mostly Hart most of the time, running his mouth a mile a minute and giving a one-note performance in the key of Apoplectic.

Browbeating, bragging, nagging and preening, his character, Cedric, is tolerable in small doses. But when the shtick is stretched out over the length of the picture, it becomes wearying as Cedric’s heedless hectoring of his pals pushes them (and him) into all manner of troubles.

The original “Man,” inspired by the Steve Harvey best-seller “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” is all about couples in conflict: conflicts over jobs, conflicts over intimacy, over parenting, over how to deal with an overbearing mother who threatens to destroy one couple’s matrimonial plans. With those conflicts largely happily resolved by that movie’s end, the question for the first film’s makers was: Where do we go from here? The answer in this unnecessary but inevitable sequel is simple: Vegas.

Bachelor party! Bachelorette party! And as a capper, a wedding!

And so what we have this time around is a variation on “The Hangover” movies featuring a mostly black cast returning from the original. With the likes of Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall glammed up to the max, and Romany Malco, Michael Ealy, Terrence Jenkins and Dennis Haysbert (a newcomer to the series) looking suave and studly, it’s an outstandingly good-looking ensemble, and the performances are enthusiastic. Or, in the case of Hart, overenthusiastic.

The situations into which director Tim Story (who directed the first “Man” and also Hart’s breakout hit “Ride Along”) thrusts his performers are the expected Las Vegas/ “Hangover”-tinged misadventures: lots of boozing, a dabbling in drug-addled behavior, misfortune in the casino, poolside girl-ogling for the guys (the bikini quotient here is high), guy-ogling for the girls at a male strip club, and a trip to the local hoosegow for guys and girls alike.

Fun for all. But there’s an overly familiar feel to all of it. We have been here before.

Think Like a Man Too

* *

Cast: Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Gabrielle Union

Director: Tim Story

Running time: 1:45

Rated: PG-13; crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material.

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