Tim Story is a prolific multihyphenate producer-director, who in the 12 years between 2002 to 2014, produced one feature and directed 10.
Between those two films he directed Think Like A Man, with an ensemble cast that included Hart. It cost $12 million to produce, and earned just over $96 million dollars, which is virtually a license to print money.
In 2014 Story directed Ride Along, with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. I didn’t like it, partially because its plot was a rehash of Walter Hill’s Another 48 Hrs. (which was itself little more than a money grab, hoping to ride the coattails of the original 48 Hrs) though mainly because it wasn’t particularly funny.
Though I must be the only person who felt that way, because Ride Along earned over $153 million on a $25 million dollar budget, which was done almost entirely in the United States (only $19 million came from the foreign box office), which is the reverse of the way these sort of things work lately (movies like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Pacific Rim were stronger overseas than domestically).
Being able to produce successful product at minimal cost has many advantages, though I wonder if it’s almost like an assembly line: Idea in, movie out in a neat, slickly-produced package.
Till I saw Think Like A Man Too, and realized that that’s exactly what’s going on, which isn’t to imply that it’s a bad film. Quite the contrary. Think Like A Man Too is better than Ride Along–which isn’t saying much–though it’s very slick and built well for the job it’s designed for.
Which I think is to appeal to a primarily African-American audience, without excluding any other identity-based groups, which isn’t an easy thing to do. At the showing I attended in the District of Columbia, the crowd was primarily African-American–probably about 90%–though there were a few white and Hispanic people as well, which was mirrored in the casting of the movie.
That analogy of an assembly line is an apt one. They’re designed to do one thing, which is to produce something in a consistent fashion, time and time again. Though the problem is that such an approach is OK for cars (though someone needs to tell GM that), though not so great when you’re talking about movies.
As a result, with Think Like A Man Too what you see is what you get. Everything is laid out and on the surface, though don’t look any depth, because it isn’t there. Like a good machine, it just wants to entertain you, so sit back, turn off your head, and let the attractive actors and actresses wash over you.
Which is a pity, because everyone, though in particular, Kevin Hart’s Cedric deserved a little more in the way of backstory. I am not sure that he wasn’t simply Kevin Hart being Kevin Hart, but he was the most dynamic-and slightly damaged–character on screen. Essentially a less obnoxious version of his character from Real Husbands Of Hollywood, Hart’s Cedric had the energy level of a man three times his size.
He’s interesting to watch, and is only matched by the ladies, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, McLendon-Covey and Gabrielle Union when they perform an impromptu version of Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison while high on marajuana breath strips.
But soon it’s over, and you’re wondering where Kevin Hart has wondered off to.