I was recently able to watch both Warner Brothers’ new musical Jersey Boys and Sony Picture’s new comedy sequel Think Like A Man Too starring comedian Kevin Hart on consecutive days. To my amazement I found myself liking the sequel directed by a relative unknown by the name of Tim Story than the adaptation of the Tony Award® winning Broadway hit musical directed by four time Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood.
Make no mistake neither film is going to win any Academy Awards® next February. But if found myself falling more for the wacky Vegas adventures on a wedding weekend among a diverse group of characters that made up another adaption based loosely on the premise of comedian’s Steve Harvey’s hit book “Think Like a Man.” Both movies certainly had their flaws. Jersey Boys was a too strictly by-the-book adaptation while Think Like a Man ironically veered too far away from the original source material. This version of “Think” came across like a poor man’s “The Hangover” with considerable less sex and debauchery, but more heart and sentimentality, clearly to appeal to the female viewers no doubt. And this is not a bad thing.
So What’s the Big Deal?
“Think” came across a funny take on sentimentality and heart when a couple enjoys dueling bachelor and bachelorette parties and an eventual wedding during a weekend in Vegas. Long story short, as usual with any Vegas movie, signals get crossed, hijinks occur, people get crude and nude and in the end the wedding actually takes place with a lot of aw shucks earnestness you would actually expect out of a Steve Harvey self-help book. Lots of happy endings abound and your left wondering how the story is supposed to advance for the inevitable third sequel of this comedy showcase which revolves around a group of predominately African American friends.
The one well intentioned caveat was the not so common story this movie was trying to tell. That of the wild adventures of a diverse group of friends who are upper middle class to upper class enjoying their lives. That’s it period. No other stereotypes were being exploited. Sure Kevin Hart laid out his traditional “if I’m loud enough, you’ll think I’m funny” routine. And since his star is on the rise since the original Think Like Man movie came out I was not surprised to see his character basically take the lead and help bring all of the other storylines together. Thanks to Think Like a Man Too I was reminded how rarely this kind of story is told. This point was especially brought home when I recently caught a showing of movie The Best Man Holiday on HBO.
It Pays To Be Rich
One caveat I noticed in both “Think” and “Holiday” is that they both showcase financially well off African Americans. For example, Hart’s character Cedric spends a huge amount of money on a lavish suite a Caeser’s Palace, and Taraji P. Henson’s character of Lauren is promoted to the COO position of her company. Over at “Holiday” Morris Chestnut’s character is living in the lap of luxury thanks to his high profile football player Lance Sullivan enjoying success on the field. At the same time, all of the other characters in both films are enjoying their peak working professional lives successfully coexisting with their personal lives.
So What’s The Problem?
I began thinking why aren’t these stories told more often? Where financially well-off people of color are burning the candle, so to speak, at both ends. This is where our main source of story, at least in the two movies I just watched, come from. For one, I question why directors like Tim Story and “Holiday’s” Malcolm D. Lee aren’t given more opportunities to work with more actors of color and not just their niche African American repertoires they tend to work with? Why aren’t more screenwriters allowed to tell more stories about well off characters of color? Is it because studio heads aren’t of color and don’t think a majority of audiences will relate?
Fiction vs. Reality
The Best Man Holiday had a lot of hijinks this time around but it also had a considerable amount of sorrow. This rollercoaster of emotions allowed director Malcolm D. Lee to tell a fully realized story with actual characters with real emotions no matter how maudlin it really got towards the end of his film. On the other end of the spectrum, director Tim Story showcased through Think Like a Man Too as a wacky PG-13 rated adventure movie while ending the movie with a romanticized story that left many of our couples with happy endings with fully accomplished dreams still to come.
These stories aren’t being told enough, and that’s a real shame. For once I’d love to see biracial couple’s experience life’s adventures beyond their race or ethnicity. Hopefully this can be possible with a more diverse group of writers, directors and producers in Hollywood. But in reality it will only happen if more open-minded studio heads will consider this a reliable option. Because in the end, if a movie makes money, sequel can’t be too far off. That’s not a bad thing for me it just needs to have purpose.