After months of discussion and media hype, “Think Like a Man,” a highly entertaining romantic comedy inspired by Steve Harvey’s New York Times best-selling book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” opens today in theaters nationwide.
Featuring a strong ensemble cast, “Think Like a Man” is directed by Tim Story of “Barbershop” fame, and follows four beautiful and successful women, all looking for love. There’s Kristen (Gabrielle Union), who’s in a longtime relationship that appears to be going nowhere; Candace (Regina Hall), a devoted single mother who is looking for a good, stable man; Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), a successful “Type A” businesswoman who is actively seeking a man who is “on her level,” and the sexy Mya (Meagan Good) who has dated a string of opportunistic losers — the latest being the silly and immature Alex (Chris Brown).
The ladies are dealing with the usual suspects when it comes to the men in their lives - Zeke, the smooth playboy (Romany Malco), Michael (Terrence J), the hopeless “Mama’s Boy,” the complacent, commitment-phobic Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Dominic (Michael Ealy), the hardworking guy with limitless potential, who often gets overlooked because that potential has yet to be realized. Despite the women’s angst, this band of merry men thinks that life is great — except for their pint-sized pal Cedric (Kevin Hart), who is going through a messy divorce, and never lets any of them forget it.
Just as their frustration becomes unbearable, the ladies see Steve Harvey on TV discussing his new book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” and are instantly intrigued. They race to buy copies of Harvey’s “self-help” book, and immediately put his plan into action. His advice works like a charm until the guys discover that they are being “played,” and that it was another man who sold them out.
The clever and engaging screenplay was written by Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, although that appears to mean very little to Philly’s outrageous Kevin Hart, who will do or say just about anything, forcing his cast mates to deal with the fallout. Fortunately, he was working with a group of professionals who rather enjoyed the challenge of managing an out-of-control scene stealer who would improvise during his scenes, talk non-stop, dissolve into tears without warning and physically threaten folks who were almost two feet taller and about 100 pounds heavier than he.
For me, and apparently for the rest of the ladies in the house, the most captivating couple was Lauren and Dominic, the controlling over-achiever and the struggling dreamer who has yet to arrive. Versatile Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson sizzles as Lauren, who drives the best cars, drinks the best champagne and is waiting for a man who can top her impressive six-figure income to show up.
The cerebral and sensuous Michael Ealy does a slow burn as Dominic, a sincere, ambitious guy who parks cars and works as a waiter while pursuing his dream of becoming a professional chef. One day while parking an expensive car for a customer, he encounters Lauren, and against his better judgment (along with his friends’ bad advice), allows her to believe that it is his. A relationship develops and the sparks fly until Lauren discovers that it’s all based on a lie. Can she love a man based on his potential, or will she find it impossible to “lower” her standards?
Tim Story does a brilliant job of directing this superb ensemble which includes sassy veteran Jenifer Lewis as Michael’s overbearing mother, and Steve Harvey appears just enough for the audience to associate him with his book. There are countless cameo appearances in the film, and you will have a great time pointing them out, particularly when you finally get to meet Cedric’s estranged wife.
Featuring an engaging story, a beautiful, talented cast, and Kevin Hart’s hilarious hi-jinks, “Think Like a Man” was definitely worth the wait, and for those who still have not seen enough of Taraji Henson at the conclusion of the movie, she is featured in all her natural glory in “Allure” magazine’s “Look Better Naked” photo spread hitting newsstands April 24. (Rated PG-13)
Celebrity Sound Bytes: Michael Ealy, on why good guys are often overlooked: “Guys like Dominic get overlooked because it starts when you’re young — high school. I have this theory that if young girls looked at the 3.8, 4.0 GPA instead of athletes ... when I was growing up in Maryland/D.C., it was drug dealers ... they had the cash, they had the clothes, the swagger, but it’s the guy who was getting the 4.0 who’s running American Express right now. That’s the difference. It’s all about everybody having to evolve. Women have to start out as girls, and they have this fascination with what’s flashy. The same thing with guys. At the end of the day, I think women overlook guys like Dominic because their priorities are not in the right place.”
Steve Harvey: “Every man can change, and every man eventually will change, but there is only one woman that we will change for.”
Grammy winner and Academy Award nominee Will Smith is expected to return to his hometown this weekend along with his talented son Jaden.
The famous father and son are scheduled to be presenters at Charlie Mack’s “I Will Be Great” Leaders Luncheon Awards Ceremony & Red Carpet, a marquee event at the Annual Charlie Mack’s Party for Peace Celebrity Weekend, taking place July 20–22.
Being held at Yesha Fellowship Hall, 2308 Snyder Ave. on July 20, the luncheon will be hosted by “Extra” correspondent A.J. Calloway and will honor Philadelphia’s Top Inner City Youth, ages 10-21.
The star-studded weekend will also feature appearances by Columbus Short of the hit ABC drama, “Scandal,” Regina Hall of the popular feature film “Think Like a Man” and Camden native Tasha Smith, star of the TBS sitcom “For Better or Worse” and Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married.” Event highlights include:
Saturday, July 21
- Youth Study Center – an inspiring visit and conversation with “adjudicated” youth
(hosted by Charlie Mack)
- Healthy Hoops Asthma Clinic & Education (You must register to attend.)
- Annual Charlie Mack Fashion Show
- White Party
Sunday, July 22
- Charlie Mack’s 2nd Annual Talented Teen 2012 Auditions
- Charlie Mack’s Love the Kids Luncheon
(hosted by Jurnee Smollet, Rev. Run, Nia Long and Tony Rock)
- Charlie Mack’s 2nd Annual Talented Teens 2012 Finale
(hosted by Faizon Love and Meagan Good)
Judges: Tyrese, Elise Neal, Q Parker from “112” and JukeBox, producer of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair”
- Charlie Mack’s “Laugh4Peace” Comedy Show
(hosted by Buck Wild)
Performers: Alex Thomas, Chris Spencer, Melanie Comarcho, Sam Larkins and Lil Rel.
Motivated by the violence that surrounded him in his community, Alston established the Charlie Mack Party 4 Peace Celebrity Weekend on July 7, 1990, with a celebrity basketball game. He has worked tirelessly to rid Philadelphia of the violence that plagues its neighborhoods, and uses the highly anticipated event as a means to that end. For additional information and a complete schedule of events, visit www.charliemackscelebrityweekend.com.
While still basking in the afterglow of “Ride Along’s” three-week reign at the box office, Philly native Kevin Hart is back on the screen for Valentine’s Day, starring in “About Last Night,’ an over-the-top adaptation of of the 1986 romantic comedy starring Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins.
In a superb small ensemble comprised of Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall and Joy Bryant, “About Last Night,” produced by Will Packer (“Think Like a Man,” “Stomp the Yard,” “This Christmas”), examines two distinctly different relationships — following them from the bar to the bedroom.
The wild and crazy Bernie (Kevin Hart) and his cute, but conservative, best friend Danny (Michael Ealy), who are co-workers at a restaurant supply company, are at their favorite tavern, where they are about to meet Bernie’s current lust interest Joan (Regina Hall) and her best friend Debbie (Joy Bryant). While their volatile relationship is a source of excitement for Bernie and Joan each perceives their best friend as “boring.” Danny is a particular drag because he has just been dumped by his girlfriend Allison (Paula Patton), and never stops whining about it.
When Bernie and Joan excuse themselves from the table because they can no longer keep their hands off each other, Danny and Debbie begin to talk and end up leaving the bar together for a roll in the hay — something that is quite out of character for both of them. However, what starts out as a one-night stand turns into something that neither of them anticipated.
It’s much less complicated for Joan and Bernie. Their relationship is purely physical, and that’s it — or so they think. Giving relationship advice to his best friend while his own situation is in constant chaos provides a myriad of comedic capers for the hot-headed Bernie, and for his part, Danny remains completely unfazed by his annoying little buddy’s ridiculous antics.
Directed by Steve Pink, “About Last Night” is the perfect platform for Hart’s fearless improvisation, and the quick-witted Regina Hall is the perfect foil, with the two of them riffing off each other through fights, break-ups, make-ups and raunchy “love” scenes. In stark contrast, the romance between Debbie and Danny, who tend to over-analyze every situation, rather than just living in the moment, is a bit slow at times, even when they make a conscious effort to be spontaneous. However, with Hart on the set, everyone is guaranteed a good time, and he even gets Ealy, who tends to be on the serious side, to loosen up a bit. Watch for him at a kooky costume party, and a quick cameo by former NFL star Terrell Owens will catch you by surprise.
With a “grown and sexy” screenplay by Leslye Headland, outrageous improv by the red-hot Kevin Hart and his leading lady, and a top-notch ensemble, “About Last Night,” now in theaters, is proof positive that there truly is a thin line between love and hate. (Rated “R” for sexual content, language and brief drug use).
Celebrity Soundbytes: On “remaking” a classic - Regina Hall: “We knew we were bringing our own ‘contemporized’ version. That it was a little different from the movie and a lot more like the David Mamet ‘Sexual Perversity in Chicago’ play. We knew we could make it our own, and because we are African American, we knew we wouldn’t have to worry about comparisons. Because of who we are culturally and who we are individually, we bring our own unique style. So I don’t think we were worried about it. I didn’t and I know Kevin didn’t.”
Kevin Hart: “We got to elevate material that was given to us. When they use the word ‘remake,’ it’s sometimes used unfairly because you can’t remake something that was already a classic. The film that was done had great success, and the actors and actresses that were a part of it did a great job. So what we did was take the ‘Sexual Perversity’ play, and put a bunch of edge into it and modernized it.”
I dare say that, at the moment, there’s no hotter comedian on the planet than Philly’s own Kevin Hart, and after topping the box office for three consecutive weeks with “Ride Along,” a “buddy comedy” co-starring Ice Cube — which recently surpassed the $100 million mark — Hart now steps into the romantic comedy realm with “About Last Night,” which opens in theaters today.
Hart, his leading lady Regina Hall and Will Packer, the film’s producer, were recently in Hart’s hometown for a preview screening of “About Last Night,” followed by a busy day of promoting the picture. At the Four Seasons Philadelphia, the talented trio, who worked together on the Steve Harvey hit, “Think Like a Man,” talked about their latest project and how it took shape.
“I look at a project and I say, ‘Is there a story to be told? Is this something that’s going to make people feel something?’” said Packer, whose productions include “Think Like a Man,” “This Christmas,” “Stomp the Yard” and “Takers.” It doesn’t have to have some over-riding message. It doesn’t have to have some great theme. It could be just pure entertainment. It could be escapism, but that’s when movies are at their best. When you come in, I never want you to leave a Will Packer movie and say, ‘I just wasted an hour and a half of my life.’
“I’m proud of ‘About Last Night’ because it’s a contemporary look at relationships that we haven’t had, and we haven’t had it like this,” Packer said. “This is an unsafe film. This isn’t a film that just typical — everybody acts the right way, they get together and they break up and they get together at the end … it’s not that kind of movie. This is edgy, it’s adult, it’s got language that’s in your face, imagery that’s in your face. I like that about it, and I feel that audiences are ready for that.”
As our discussion continued, the good-natured banter between the threesome was continuous, with the usually rambunctious Hart visibly road-weary from his promotional tour, yet determined that his zany co-star and witty producer would not get the best of him in their ongoing verbal warfare. Ironically, in this latest film, there were moments during his portrayal of Bernie that we catch a glimpse of Hart’s broadening range as an actor.
“You’ve got to understand that some comedians are coming from the darkest pasts and backgrounds, so anything to give you the opportunity to show a little depth, you take it,” Hart said. “You try to step up to the plate and knock the ball out the park. For me, my reason for taking [the role of Bernie] was just because it was different, and I got to work with Regina, and I got to work in a different capacity, and play a character with levels, so it was a no-brainer for me. The director, Steve Pink, was cool, and he was open to me and my ideas.”
To her credit, Regina Hall, who has been featured in the Wayans Brothers’ “Scary Movie” franchise, is among the few who are capable of trading barbs with such top-ranked comedians, both on and off-screen. “Well, I’ve been passed around by a lot of comedians,” Hall said.
“You might want to re-phrase that,” said Packer.
How does Hall control the creative chaos?
“You don’t really have to control it,” she said. “When people like Kevin reach a level of success, there is a professionalism behind the camera that audiences don’t see. So when you go to work, it’s energy, but it’s channeled. You’re talking about people who produce, who are prolific, who write — they’re businessmen, they’re not like dudes on the corner, like ‘Ha, ha, ha!’ They’re strategic and they also love to entertain.”
Turning to her co-star, Hall added, “When an audience is there, they’re putting forth what audiences want to see. For me, it makes it fun because you work with people who are naturally funny, and they know when to turn it on and when to turn it up and when to dial it back, so it’s always great. A lot of comedians have different sides. For example, Kevin, he always a happy person — especially when you take your medication, you’re the best!”
Acknowledging that Hall had gotten off a good one,” Hart said in conclusion, “Right now, I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m enjoying the lane that I’m in has far as comedy, as far as content, material, and if it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it. In time, everything grows. As time goes on, my opportunities will get bigger.”