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'Think Like a Man' at No. 1 again

The multiracial, battle-of-the-sexes comedy “Think Like a Man” remained at No. 1 over the weekend, its second week in the top position.

That's an impressive performance for a movie that many viewers probably dismissed as a Tyler Perry knockoff. It's also a better showing than most Perry movies, which often open at No. 1 but tend to drop quickly over subsequent weeks.

That makes it official: This film may look like an “African-American movie,” and it may look like a chick flick. But with a second-weekend take of $18 million, and overall receipts totaling $61 million, it's clearly becoming something with much broader appeal.

It's based on a best-selling book by comedian Steve Harvey, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” which gives the movie a built-in brand recognition. But Perry's films, too, have a major brand (Perry's name precedes every title), and they've never managed to capture a wider audience.  They've also fared poorly with critics, who regularly accuse Perry of both amateurish filmmaking and pandering to a demographic.

“Think Like a Man,” by contrast, has received generally positive reviews. The cast, led by Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Gabrielle Union and comedian Kevin Hart, has come in for particular praise, but many reviewers have given credit to director Tim Story ("Barbershop”) for deftly juggling the crowded storyline. The Tampa Bay Tribune summed up the movie as “romantic charm and racy humor in a neatly arranged package anyone can appreciate.”

That's because “Think Like a Man” focuses on the guys as much as the women, something that rom-coms almost never do. There's as much raunchy dude talk as mushy love stuff. The film also has a refreshingly eased-up attitude about race, with the guys (two of the six are white) ribbing each other lightly about their differences. The film's one interracial romance (played by Gabrielle Union and Jerry Ferrara) also seems believable, partly because none of the characters makes a big or even a small deal about it.

In some ways, “Think Like a Man” has learned some lessons from the past 10 years of Judd Apatow comedies. “Knocked Up” proved that men can appreciate genuine emotion, while “Bridesmaids” proved that women will sit through even the crudest humor. It's also possible that the movie's pan-racial cast, which so often seems like a contrivance, is finally starting to look more like a reflection of people's real lives.

If it weren't for this Friday's release of “Marvel's The Avengers," who knows? “Think Like a Man” might have had another week at the top.

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