I Think I Love My Wife
Chris Rock is a brilliant
stand-up comedian. He has a lot more problems with making funny
movies. I Think I Love My Wife actually looked like it could be
one of the better ones. I suppose if you get technical, it
is one of his better films -- but that is a reflection of the fact that his
other films are mostly so bad, not that I Think I Love My Wife is
Rock has a funny story idea
here. Well, it's not exactly his idea. Rock has a tendency
to remake well known films poorly (Heaven Can Wait, The Longest Yard).
Here he at least picks a slightly more obscure film, the French romantic
comedy Chloe in the Afternoon and does a pretty good, if just
slightly mediocre job of it.
Rock plays Richard Cooper,
a middle-class banking executive who seems to have to perfect world -- a
good job, lovely house, beautiful wife (Gina Torres) and cute kids (okay,
cutesy kids, anyway... they are a little over-the-top precocious, but this
is a comedy after all.). However, Cooper has a major case of the
seven-year itch. He and his wife have settled into a sexless
brother-sister relationship -- they love each other but the passion is gone.
They talk at each other without really listening, go to a counselor who
judges them silently but offers little constructive advice.
He also seems to love his
kids... at least they show him playing with them on the rare occasions that
the kids are on screen. In fact, they keep showing some weird game
with his daughter where he runs after her with his tie around his head like
some odd bandana. I kept wondering what this game was and why it kept
being shown, until this same look leads to a later personal epiphany for
Cooper -- one that had nothing to do with his daughter and also sort of made
no sense as a story point or even an action. Most men, no matter how
rushed, will untie their tie rather than loosen it and try to slip it over
It seems like a lot of
juggling to do for so little pay-off, unfortunately things like this happen
pretty often here. (See also: the annoying rapping delivery guys on
elevators, the identical Michael Jackson discussions, etc. I know that
comedy schools teach that repetition is funny, but there has to be some
reason for the repetition in a storyline, it's not just supposed to be just
thrown out there.)
Because he is getting no
sex, Cooper fantasizes about every woman he meets. Women on the
street, in the stores, at the office, in bars. He always blames the women
around him for his own urges -- best shown by a scene in which he nearly
gets a waitress fired by complaining about her cleavage, just because he
couldn't trust himself to look the other way. He may think that he is
in some odd way trying to be faithful to his wife, but he comes off looking
like a bit of an asshole for doing it.
These fantasies may come to
reality when Nikki (Kerry Washington), a gorgeous party girl who used to be
engaged to his best friend years before, strolls back into his life. Nikki is sexy, fun-loving and
flirtatious. She is also selfish, a little shallow, unusually blunt
and even has a little casual cruelty in her. (On their first reunion,
she amuses herself and him by throwing dollar bills out of a high-rise
office window and watching the people scurry after the money, all the while mocking
them.) The two of them start a strange relationship -- she visits him
at work almost every day, they take three-hour lunches together and share
intimate secrets. It's sort of like an affair without sex. Not
that she doesn't give off a vibe that she would be open to that possibility.
The main problem with I
Think I Love My Wife is that Rock stacks the deck too much. I know
that in real life Rock is happily married man, but honestly he makes married
life look nearly unbearable -- more a responsibility than a choice.
(At least that's the way I take it as a single man -- in an interview I
heard Rock say that married men complain about these things but they don't
want to change them that much).
However, it is almost
unfair how much he tilts the storyline to make it okay to consider an
affair. His wife is nearly as beautiful as his fantasy woman (not
quite, but not many people are as beautiful as Kerry Washington), but she is
constantly flipping back and forth between being the perfect wife and being
a nagging shrew. Sex is completely off the table (most marrieds have
it at least occasionally...) and all the major conversations are about the
kids. No one could really blame him for wanting to stray for a
beautiful, flirty, sexually open (frankly, just a little too sexually open)
It's a shame, because there
is a good movie in I Think I Love My Wife, fighting to show itself
over occasionally lazy storytelling. There are enough good moments and
fine acting to recommend this film, but it should be even better.
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: July 27, 2007.