Dave's Rating:

2.5

Stop thinking.

You knew a sequel was coming. And maybe you wondered if it would involve the first film's winning, funny, fully-engaged cast simply poring ever more deeply over Steve Harvey's book of dating advice, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, just to see if they'd missed any good tips on how to win and keep a relationship.

Kidding. You didn't wonder about that at all. And you're not surprised that the sequel just plops everybody down in Las Vegas for 1) a wedding and 2) a PG-13 hybrid of The Hangover and Moms' Night Out. Sorry, you say you didn't see Moms' Night Out? Well, it was The Hangover for Southern Baptist pastors' wives and it starred Patricia Heaton and... I know. You don't care.

TLAMToo comes fully loaded with its own agenda of not caring. It doesn't care so much about its characters anymore, for starters. The first installment popped off the screen thanks to its tight ensemble of somewhat prickly, gently weird characters whose Los Angeles lives revolved around romantic brinksmanship. It had its retro gender role cake and ate it, too, and allowed barking crazy person Kevin Hart and comic actress Regina Hall to shine. They still do, even as Hart yell-narrates a movie that needs zero explanation to be understood and Hall's role is reduced to one of reactions.

TLAMToo doesn't care so much about plot anymore, either. The coupled-up characters' lives are reduced, more or less, to the same concerns presented in the first film. Instead, they're given a giant party bus to play in, provided they stay in their seats, ones assigned by easily-read personality traits never explored in between the plentiful laughs. And there are plentiful laughs, from beginning to (almost) the end. But the movie is only interested in being funny if the gags exist in perfect brand synergy with a sanitary Las Vegas tourist experience by proxy, one that comes complete with warnings about possible jail time if your "what happens in Vegas" runs afoul of casino codes of conduct.

Lightly naughty antics, then, are the order of business. Thankfully there are a lot of them, most as funny as they are empty, including the raucous highlight: a lip-sync video for Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" performed by the women. It drops down into the middle of the film like a grenade that explodes too soon, and it makes everything that comes after -- especially the third act downshift into slow and special feelings -- seem like rote tidying up. When they make Think Like The Third Man (a comedy mystery set in Vienna, naturally), maybe someone in charge, maybe even Steve Harvey, will give this talented, deserving cast a meatier project that's worth their time.

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