Think Like a Man, Act like a woman
21st July 2012
If “love is a battlefield” as Pat Benatar famously sung, then the battle of the sexes continues in Steve Harvey’s thoroughly entertaining smash hit movie set on the basketball courts and streets of California.
Comedian, Author and Talk show host Harvey’s debut movie ‘Think Like a Man’ is a funny, fast paced and insightful exploration of the modern dating game.
It’s a good romcom and stand alone film, but basically a glorified advert for his best selling dating manual, ‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man’. Genius. It’s worked an absolute treat and presumably made him a fortune, with book sales unsurprisingly increasing massively on the back of ticket sales. The film has so far grossed at least $93m ($91m in the USA) and counting at the Box office.
In a way it owes a lot to a predecessor book, ‘The Rules’: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, published in 1995.
In this film we follow the lives and friendship between 4 American men and 4 women. We have different stereotypes of men – Mummy’s Boy, Happy Divorcee, Happily Married, The Player and Regular guy-no dramas.
It’s fascinating to watch their take on relationships and how the course of their relationships are affected as the women in their lives alter their way of thinking and acting as the read ‘The Book’ and take heed. We hear all about the ’90 day rule’, the cookies, signs of commitment phobes; the importance/significance of being a man’s No1 priority.
With the women we have stereotypes too: all generally are strong, independent women. In addition we have the high achieving alpha career woman; single mother and home maker. Though most of the characters have little difficulty meeting men, it’s clear the thinking is, are they the right sort of men. Mr Right. At a debate earlier this month, 7 July 2012, one woman stated that “Black men are an endangered species.” I would say that this popular and age old debate within the Black community, both in the UK and USA, is the reason this book and movie was written and explains the predominantly African-American casting.
I liked the fact the movie was overall positive one, with no negative stereotypes or foolish characters. It features one well functioning, grounded, inter-racial couple, where the racial identities were never an issue and never referred to. Two of the main 5 male characters are white men, all the female stars are African-American. Strictly speaking that wasn’t really necessary as this movie ought to have had great cross over appeal and judging by the US box-office perhaps it did, yet it’s overseas sales are relatively low and the movie wasn’t out for long in the UK. I daresay casting the movie in this way resulted in it being labelled a “niche” movie which traditionally don’t get much in the way of a cinema release in this country. Furthermore, I don’t think it was even shown in France.
It also deftly and subtly highlighted what the ‘ideal’ was without over egging or even showing that on screen. I can’t say more than that without spoiling it, but should you see the movie you will understand.
There are fine performances from Comedian Kevin Hart, with one of the funniest scenes coming towards the finale; supported by Singer Chris Brown, Gabrielle Union and Destiny’s Child Singer and X Factor Judge Kelly Rowland.
For me, the value of the movie and the book of course, is that it helps women gain a greater understanding of the male psyche. If applied positively and constructively it could be one thing that will help women to find and maintain stable relationships. It’s equally important for men too, to take the time to understand and adapt to the requirements of women if they are to achieve happy and well functioning relationships.
Both the book and movie serve a useful purpose to that extent and may prevent a lot of heartache and pain.
Tiemo Talk of the Town
28th July 2012