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updated: 6/19/2014 7:14 AM

'Think Too' pulls its comic punches with PG-13 rated restraint

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  • Cedric (Kevin Hart), center, does double duty in Tim Story's "Think Like A Man Too" by both narrating and being in the story.

      Cedric (Kevin Hart), center, does double duty in Tim Story's "Think Like A Man Too" by both narrating and being in the story.

  • Video: "Think Like a Man 2" trailer

 
 

Tim Story's comedy sequel "Think Like a Man Too" plays like a neutered version of the original "The Hangover."

Performers in Las Vegas strip clubs don't really strip. Shaky, out-of-focus shots constitute a hallucinogenic drug trip. Richard Pryor-level language has been filtered to meet network TV standards of acceptance.

Even the wild pool parties with topless girls have been carefully choreographed so that the camera captures only their backs. (If you can't see what Monty Python affectionately calls "the naughty bits," can that accurately be called "partial nudity"? Apparently, the MPAA's Ratings Administration thinks so.)

"Think Too" follows up the modestly successful 2012 release "Think" with a familiar cast of characters assembling for a Las Vegas wedding.

Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins) have decided to tie the knot in Sin City, prompting his best man Cedric (Kevin Hart) to splurge on what he thinks is $4,000 a night for a huge hotel suite the size of Godzilla's penthouse.

The guests arrive on time, including philandering Zeke "the Freak" (Romany Malco) with his wary new lady friend Mya (Meagan Good), chef Dominic (Michael Ealy) and his corporate ladder-climbing girlfriend Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and his pregnancy-pursuing wife Kristen (Gabrielle Union), white doofus Bennett (Gary Owen) and his square squeeze Tish (Wendi McLendon-Covey), plus Michael's mean, manipulative mother Loretta (Jenifer Lewis) inconveniently staying in the room next to the newlyweds.

"We're here to make bad decisions and to regret them later!" one of the men declares.

The first bad decision comes from screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, who anoint the jumpy, frenetically overacting Cedric as the movie's narrator. As the disembodied color commentator, he's called upon to treat the upcoming skirmish of the sexes as a sporting event.

"It's the third quarter!" Cedric's voice lamely informs us. "And it's still anybody's game!"

In a strange twist of internal illogic, "Think Too" shows us how Michael wanted Dominic to be his best man, but Cedric mistakenly assumed that Michael picked him. The would-be groom proves to be too gracious to disappoint the excited Cedric.

But wouldn't Cedric already know all this, being the movie's omniscient narrator?

With the blessed event coming up the next day, the wedding party splits into male and female contingents for a traditional night of premarital naughtiness.

When the hotel informs Cedric his suite costs $40,000 a night and not $4,000 (that was just the discount), he first tries to win the money at blackjack. When that fails, desperate Cedric persuades his pals to go for $50,000 in prize money offered by a local strip club.

Not so surprisingly, the women decide to take the bride-to-be to a male strip club at the same time. What are the odds?

"Think Like a Man Too" relies on a plethora of tried-and-true clichés. (Verbal clichés include "Trust me," "This is what I'm talkin' about," "This is crazy!" and various uses of "Awesome." Visual clichés include fireworks, strip clubs, the slow-motion group march and introducing characters by showing us their shoes coming out of a car.)

An action-packed free-for-all in the strip club provides a brief interlude of manic spontaneity.

But would anyone really want to think like these men?

Perish the thought.

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