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Man hunt; Fine cast makes a difference in Harvey-based film

"Think Like a Man" is a revolutionary film -- a two-hour plus infomercial for Steve Harvey's Oprahfied best-seller about the most useful procedures for women to identify, partner with and thoroughly domesticate The Right Guy.

The "info" is an unusually messy and digressive plot about a bunch of guys who shoot hoops at the Y twice a week who discover that the most important women in their lives have been using Harvey's book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" to "make war" on them, i.e. manipulate them into being committed, loving, domesticated partners.

The ultra-smooth, never-lose playa among them (Romany Malco) has to wait 90 days to "get the cookie"; the immature fan boy (Jerry Ferrara) has to divest himself of his movie posters and reeking couch and commit publicly if he wants to keep his gorgeous live-in lady (beauteous Gabrielle Union), that sort of thing.

It's all quite dumb but so amiably so that it winds up 10 times more likable than a lot of romantic comedies these days that think they have better pedigrees and a whole lot more on their minds.

And you should have heard the laughs that this thing got from the audience at the screening (as well as the wild female whooping when Michael Ealy was first shown lying in bed without a shirt).

So the movie is part girl's night out, part bros-in-love and all Harvey infomercial, where the comedian keeps returning on camera to repeat the more salient and pertinent passages from his book.

It's much too long for its messy narrative (120 minutes) and it's so ineptly put together that it relegates its scene of maximum comic potential -- a pickup B-ball game between the guys and a bunch of giant-sized pros including Ron Artest/Metta World Peace and Lisa Leslie -- to a final scene run behind the closing credits while everyone's leaving the theater.

What makes the movie so watchable -- and it's all of that -- is the cast, every last one of them, including some of the most attractive and vivid black performers in current Hollywood. Standouts are Ealy, Union, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall and the wild, perennially P.O.'d divorced man and motormouth among the guys, Kevin Hart.

I wish I knew why Ferrara is wearing a Buffalo T-shirt so conspicuously at one point in the film but it's never explained.

But he does.




2 1/2 stars (out of 4)    

STARRING: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union    

DIRECTOR: Tim Story    

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes    

RATING: PG-13 for sexual humor, some crude language, brief drug use.    

THE LOWDOWN: Guys who play basketball twice a week at the YMCA discover their women have been making war using Steve Harvey's best-seller "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man."