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Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:01 am

Too not everyone’s cup of tea

Romany Malco, Michael Ealy, Gary Owen and Kevin Hart.

 

Film critic Gene Siskel once put forth the notion that reviewing comedies was a useless exercise. He felt that comedy was a subjective genre and that while he might think something was funny, others might not be amused at all and vice versa. I think there’s something to this. We all know someone who has a sense of humor we just don’t understand while there have been times I’ve told a joke I think is funny only to be met with stony silence. So, this review for Think Like a Man Too could be seen as an exercise in futility and though that may be the case, I’m still going to use this opportunity to vent a bit about the current top comic in the business, Kevin Hart.

Made for just $12 million, 2012’s Think Like a Man, a moderately entertaining comedic update of the battle of the sexes was a surprise hit grossing just over $90 million. The inevitable sequel reunites the four couples at the center of the first film – Michael and Candace (Terrence Jenkins and Regina Hall) who are getting married in Las Vegas, Lauren and Dominic (Taraji Henson and Michael Ealy) who are repairing their relationship, Mya and Zeke (Meagan Good and Romany Malco) who are dealing with trust issues and Kristin and Jeremy (Gabrielle Union and Jerry Ferrara) who are trying to have a baby. All have come to Sin City to have one last blowout before the impending wedding along with their friend Cedric (Hart) who mistakenly thinks he’s Michael’s best man, taking it upon himself to provide his friend with a grand time, going so far as to book a villa he can’t afford and planning festivities he can’t pay for.

Eventually, the film splits into parallel story lines as we follow what both the men and women are up to during their respective nights of debauchery, all of which goes horribly wrong with all of them ending up in the Vegas lockup. None of this is remotely original but it must be said that story-wise it’s really no worse than countless other lackluster comedies that have been made in the last decade. However, there are key differences in the way the movie is constructed that makes it far worse than it should have been. As edited by Peter Elliot and presumably approved by director Tim Story, the film is spliced together as if it were an action epic. Simple conversations are cut between various points of view at a whiplash pace so that reactions to what’s being said barely register before the next line is stated. These exchanges become nearly impossible to follow not simply because they’re cut together so quickly but because shots are inserted of characters that have little to do with what’s going on. This is a misguided strategy used to boost the pace of the film when it only succeeds in distracting us.

Then there’s the case of Hart. While I understand the comic has legions of fans, a little of his shtick goes a long way and there’s far too much of him here. He dominates every scene he’s in, manically screeching, spastically moving about, overreacting whenever his character is in peril, never behaving for a moment as a real person would. Hart is a seizure personified, a needlessly manic, childish performer who reminds me of a 3-year-old constantly acting out to get the attention he craves. He doesn’t entertain as much as assault the audience, an approach that, with the rapid-fire editing, left me with a headache and nausea.

It’s too bad that Story lets Hart dominate the film. The four couples shoved to the background are appealing, as well as sympathetic. They are all dealing with issues pertinent to today’s young couples. Fear of commitment, concerns over parenthood, problems with trust and dealing with the past are the topics the movie attempts to tackle but they’re shoved to the background so that Hart can cavort and flail about. With Too taking in over $30 million in its first weekend, it’s obvious the comic has a loyal following who find his act funny. Here’s hoping they were entertained by this monotonous effort. As for me, I think a root canal performed without anesthetic would be more fun.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.



For an advance review of The Rover, go to the Cinemascoping blog.


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