Kevin Hart stars in sequel set in Vegas

Comedian Kevin Hart speaks onstage during the Coke Zero Countdown at NCAA March Madness Music Festival - Day 2 at Reunion Park on April 5, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Turner)

Sequels, as the 22 Jump Street joke goes, are always "the same, only worse." So any pretense of insight into the battle of the sexes and any real connection to comic-turned-relationship-expert Steve Harvey's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, is long forgotten in Think Like a Man Too, the sequel to the surprise hit of two springs back.

Kevin Hart has become the breakout star of this ensemble, so Too is basically a vehicle for the Manic Little Man - with Las Vegas as the playground. This generally mild-mannered comedy sinks or swims on Hart's back. And as one scene makes clear, Little Man can't swim.

Our Think Like a Man couples head to Vegas, where Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins) are getting married.

Cedric (Hart) has been mistakenly named best man, and is spending every cent he's got - and then some - for a bachelor party for the ages for Michael, with Dominic (Michael Ealy), "Zeke the Freak" (Romany Malco), Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), and Bennett (Gary Owen) along for the ride. Business executive Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) has set up a bachelorette party for Candace, Mya (Meagan Good), Kristen (Gabrielle Union), Tish (Wendi McLendon-Covey), and Sonia (La La Anthony). If only the groom's overbearing mom (Jenifer Lewis) will let her.

Hart's Cedric narrates the tale, which feebly grasps at basketball metaphors to "keep score" as the two groups head out into the Sin City night. Cedric nags the groom: "You've got the rest of your life . . . to follow this woman around the grocery store." And he needles their posse for their lack of party prowess. "I'm SICK of this NON-tourage."

Introduce strains in the careers/lives of chef Dominic and workaholic Lauren, baby-making efforts for "bossy" Kristen and stoner Jeremy, and Cedric's own "we're on a break" marriage.

Throw in some weak Vegas cameos (Floyd Mayweather, Drake) and assorted overly familiar gambling scenarios, a funny "ladies lip sync Bel Biv Devoe" scene that is the film's highlight, and a pretty good brawl in a strip club, and that's about it.

We're invited to laugh at the "uncle" (silky smooth Dennis Haysbert) brought in to distract Michael's obnoxious mother, and begged to giggle at the recycled "Never say never in VEGAS, baby" zingers.

None of it is fresh. Hart's finest moment comes way too early - a no-holds-barred recreation of Tom Cruise's underwear dance from Risky Business - to justify building the movie around him.

Maybe the funniest gag is the Steve Harvey cameo, a backhanded slap at just how far one comic/radio host/game show host/author/self-help chat show counselor can take "selling out." The answer - when your face is on a slot machine.


Think Like a Man Too *1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Tim Story. With Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Dennis Haysbert. Distributed by Screen Gems.

Running time: 1 hour, 46 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (crude sexual content, partial nudity, language, and drug material).

Playing at: area theaters.

Think Like A Man Too

Directed by Steve Harvey, David A. Newman, Keith Merryman. With Meagan Good, Jenifer Lewis, Michael Ealy, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco, Taraji P. Henson, Dennis Haysbert, Regina Hall, Jerry Ferrara, Adam Brody. Distributed by Sony Pictures.

Running time: 1 hours, 46 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material).