One of the nicest surprises of 2012 was "Think Like a Man," a romantic comedy inspired by Steve Harvey's self-help book. It looked unpromising but turned out to be a winner thanks to its sparkling, mixed-race cast and a deft sense of humor. The whole thing was a class act -- tasteful but not bland, conservative but never square.

The sequel, "Think Like a Man Too," marks a dip in quality. Tim Story again directs from a screenplay by Keith Marryman and David A. Newman, and the actors manage to provide a few winning moments. Overall, though, it's everything the first movie wasn't: noisy, clumsy and derivative.

The dating rules of Harvey's book no longer apply since our lovers have all paired up, but their story lines get rehashed anyway. Michael and Candace (Terrence J and Regina Hall) are determined to wed despite his domineering mother, Loretta (Jenifer Lewis, savoring every moment). Zeke and Mya (Romany Malco and Meagan Good) still have trust issues. Jeremy and Kristen (Jerry Ferrara and Gabrielle Union) are trying for a pregnancy. Dominic and Lauren (Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson, both endlessly watchable) must juggle love and success. The kinetic Kevin Hart returns as Cedric, the eternally single guy.

See if this plot reminds you of another movie: During a bachelor party in Las Vegas, several guys get into trouble (and meet a famous boxer) and risk missing the wedding. Before you say "The Hangover," consider that the women are also behaving badly, a la "Bridesmaids" (whose star, Wendi McLendon-Covey, is newly cast as the nerdy wife of Bennett, played by Gary Owen). There's also a male strip club straight out of "Magic Mike."

Drugs are ingested and mug shots are taken; Adam Brody and David Walton join the entourage but do almost nothing; the singer Drake makes a cameo. "Think Like a Man Too" feels jumbled and random, more miss than hit. In Hollywood, as in Las Vegas, you can't win 'em all.


PLOT The cast of the 2012 comedy returns for a sequel set in Las Vegas. RATING PG-13 (language, drug use, suggestive humor)

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CAST Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Wendi McLendon-Covey

LENGTH 1:46

PLAYING AT Area theaters

BOTTOM LINE Noisy and clumsy compared to the sparkling original, but the charming cast is a big plus.

 

@Newsday

Correction: The movie director was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.