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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The new movie "Think Like A Man" is a relationship comedy based on a self-help book by entertainer Steve Harvey. Our critic Bob Mondello says the picture supplies ammunition for both sides in the battle of the sexes.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The things daters have to worry about these days. Not just how to dress, act, and turn no into go, but how not to become a chirp-chirp girl. A what, you ask? Well, let's let self-help guru Steve Harvey explain.

STEVE HARVEY: Chirp-chirp. He just hits the locks, and you hop in. He don't even have to open the door.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: It's open. It's open.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: I don't go out on dates with guys who don't open the door for me.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Seriously?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Oh, man.

MONDELLO: And so it goes in this romantic roundelay. Commitment-phobe dates girl who wants a ring. Mama's boy falls for strong, single mom. Independent career gal meets head-in-the-clouds dreamer who waits tables.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: She thinks I'm a chef on the rise. She's going to run when I tell her the truth.

MONDELLO: As the types pile up, you may start to think it's amazing humanity manages to procreate at all. The story pits men who get together to drink, play basketball and fantasize about women...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: The dark knight strikes again.

MONDELLO: ...against women who gather at book clubs to complain about men.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: What is the problem with...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: ...men of this generation?

MONDELLO: It takes Steve Harvey's guidebook, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man," to give what used to be called the weaker sex an advantage.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

HARVEY: Ladies, till you understand the mindset of a man, you are never going to win in the game of love.

MONDELLO: But then the men find the book.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: It's brainwashing. I'm telling you, she's trying to push me toward my dreams and help me accomplish my goals. Why would she do this?

MONDELLO: And you can see where this is going. Tim Story, who also directed the comedy "Barber Shop," here takes time honored standup material and turns it pleasantly sitcom-ish. Kind of an urbane variation on the sort of thing that would get more earnest treatment from Tyler Perry. The director doesn't require - and doesn't really get - distinctive acting from his cast. But every once in a while, they all manage to wink broadly at the film's premise.

If you caught actor Michael Ealy in the movie "For Colored Girls," for instance, you'll get a kick out of the way his character here disses his character there. That's pretty meta for a movie based on a self-help book - a whole mini genre in romantic comedy, let's note.

Drew Barrymore's "He's Just Not that Into You," Tina Fey's "Mean Girls," the upcoming "What to Expect When You're Expecting," all the way back to the 1960s and "Sex and the Single Girl," which the New York Times called "not the worst picture ever made." Also, Woody Allen's take on the sex manual "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask."

As with most of those pictures, there is a promotional impulse driving "Think Like A Man."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THINK LIKE A MAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #3: Acting like a lady, but thinking like a man.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #4: Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #3: He's actually giving insight into a man's perspective.

MONDELLO: It's blatant here ,with everyone holding up Steve Harvey's book for the camera at one point or another - including Steve Harvey - making it sort of a two-hour infomercial, but a decently amusing one.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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