“Las Vegas!,” Kevin Hart screeches over the opening credits of Tim Story’s “Think Like a Man Too,” introducing us to both the film’s colorful, booze-soaked setting and his brand of narration, punctuated by screaming, scheming, and knowing far too much about situations he’s decidedly not privy to (pray tell, when did we decide that Kevin Hart was omnipotent?). This time around, the gang from “Think Like a Man” has decamped to Las Vegas to celebrate the impending nuptials of Michael (Terrence Jenkins) and Candace (Regina Hall). But before anyone can tie the knot, it’s time to party down one last time (getting married in Vegas sure sounds like a quick and dirty way to ensure that everyone in your wedding party has a wicked hangover on the blessed day, but at least it’s probably cheaper to cram all that mirth into one single weekend), even if it means ruining relationships, breaking hearts, and presumably surrendering some hefty financial deposits along the way.
Although Michael and Candace’s wedding is ostensibly the reason for the gathering, nearly everyone is far more preoccupied with the night before, and no one is more preoccupied with making it count than Cedric (Hart), Michael’s accidental best man, who is determined to turn the weekend into an epic blowout – even if it breaks the bank (and, presumably, also his addled and mostly drunk brain). In Cedric’s mind, the guys and the gals are part of “opposing teams,” competing to have the best time ever, and while no one else ever mentions this apparent competition, it still appears to be Cedric’s primary motivation. He’s a man possessed, and Hart’s dizzying energy and manic spirit is perfectly matched for the demands of the role, which is the main attraction of the film, the rest of its stacked cast be damned.
Hart’s rise to comedic superstardom may seem sudden, but the comedian has been working on his shtick – both as part of his stand-up routine and on the big screen – for a number of years now. It’s paid off, and in a big way, because Hart has consistently proven to be the best part of many a movie, and “Think Like a Man Too” is no exception. The rest of the case is appealing enough – especially other returning stars, like Michael Ealy, Romany Malco, Regina Hall, and Gabrielle Union – but no one else seems nearly as invested as Hart is in the film, and although it’s hard to imagine that anyone could ever compete with Hart’s unflagging zing and zeal, it also looks like no one even attempted to match wits with him this time around.
Despite the wild setting – and Cedric’s repeated score checking on a game that doesn’t seem to actually exist in anyone else’s mind – both parties seem relatively tame. The girls get pedicures, have a nice dinner, scheme against Michael’s overbearing mother, and only accidentally get high. The boys pop into various bars around the Strip, all of which seem eerily quiet. At one point, they eat a tasting menu provided by a famous chef (why they eat this tasting menu while standing up at a bar is just one of many questions “Think Like a Man Too” will likely never answer). Eventually, Michael’s supposedly wild frat buddies (Adam Brody and David Walton) show up, but the only outrageous thing they do is drink to the point of probable alcohol poisoning.
It’s all, quite strangely, boring. It’s certainly not the raucous good time implied by a weekend in Vegas, certainly not the kind bound for the big screen. “Think Like a Man Too” is, however, not entirely devoid of the kind of wild hijinks we’ve come to expect from cinematic outings set in the city that never sleeps – a pair of large-scale set pieces, the kind that take reality and toss it right out the bedazzled window, are the only other highlights of the film besides Hart. The cast clearly has chemistry together, but it’s unfortunate that the only time it can really pop is when it’s fashioned and forced into a nightclub-set faux music video and an all-out brawl at a strip club, high points of the film that come far too late and without nearly enough fanfare.
The film’s seemingly straightforward narrative is frequently muddled – subplots and supporting characters are often dropped, including Candace’s son Duke (whose presence proves key during the film’s very beginning and very ending, but who totally disappears without a word for the rest of the film – here’s hoping someone thought to get the tween a babysitter), a much-hyped after party in Cedric’s pricey suite, and some kind of insane cameo involving the rapper Drake.
The film is follow-up to Story’s 2012 feature “Think Like a Man,” which also pulled from Steve Harvey’s dating book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” to craft its narrative. Each couple in “Think Like a Man Too” is dealing with various issues – some more compelling than others – and while Keith Merryman and David A. Newman’s script doesn’t hit the audience over the head with those problems, there’s no doubt that the film is the product of a relationship advice book (at one point, one of the men even screams, “think like a man!” and Harvey’s grinning face eventually pops up on a game-changing slot machine).
What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, but at least next time the whole thing could be just a bit more memorable.