I can’t say I was anxiously counting the days of this film’s release, because then I’d be lying. And I can’t really say I’m a fan of Chris Rock, because then I’d also be lying. And I certainly can’t say that I’m into Fox Searchlight Pictures artsy comedies, because then I’d be lying hard enough to make Baby Jesus flood Heaven in tears. So then why one Earth did I go see this ill-marketed Fox Searchlight Pictures artsy comedy starring Chris Rock? Beats me.
Richard Cooper (Chris Rock) is your painfully average every day suburbanite male. He has a pretty wife (Gina Torres), two kids, a high-paying white collar job…the works. And he hates it. It’s not the kids or the job or the house that he loathes, but the monotony of it all. Oh, and the fact that his wife (who loves him) no longer wants anything to do with him sexually. The temptation of a single life is driving poor Richard mad, but what finally sends him over the edge is the arrival of an old flame, the ravishing Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington). Richard is drawn to Nikki not only for her charms and all they share in common, but for the shear adventurous curveball her presence throws into his life. However, deep down inside, Richard’s appetites battle with his conscience for dominance, as he’s not sure whether he prefers a stable, boring life with his loving family, or an uncertain future with the sultry girl of his dreams.
So I’ve established that this isn’t my type of movie, but that aside, there were things I enjoyed about this film. For a romantic comedy without any explosions or buckets of blood, it wasn’t half bad. It states at the very beginning of the film that in order to fully appreciate the story and the situations, you kind of have to have experienced married life. So right then and there I knew the movie wasn’t really aimed in my direction. However, I found its portrayal of married life and the various temptations that accompany it to ring quite true, even as someone on the outside looking in. So all you married men out there who have suffered similar slings and arrows as Richard Cooper, you’ll probably spend the flick nodding your head and chuckling at all the little things.
The cast is strong and carries the film from beginning to end with very few slip-ups. Kerry Washington’s portrayal of the gold-digging wild girl, Nikki, was quite good. Nikki is an interesting character as you’re not sure you want to love her or hate her. Steve Buscemi plays a supporting role as Richard’s coworker, George, and does his usual excellent job. I can’t say he did anything to stand out, though, and while he delivers some funny lines and provides a few memorable moments, he’s just sort of there.
Now this is a Chris Rock movie through and through. He wrote it, he directed it and he starred in it. Your enjoyment of this film will likely ride entirely on whether or not you can stand Chris Rock. I can stand Chris Rock, sure…I just don’t really like him all that much. From a writing and directorial point of view, he does an excellent job. Even though the movie is a remake of an earlier film called “Cloe in the Afternoon”, his script (co-written by Louis C.K.) is still quite strong with a lot of subtle humor and several memorable lines (I especially liked Mr. Landis’ line about chasing women and chasing money). The script and direction were solid, so that just leaves Chris Rock as the leading man…
Chris Rock can be funny. He can be very funny, which is one of the reasons why I don’t hate the guy like I do other loud and obnoxious comedians (Chris Tucker). However, in true Chris Rock fashion, he can’t go ten minutes in any role without insulting white people and portraying all black people as hideously oppressed. I know it’s your “thing”, but c’mon, Chris. You had a strong, engaging script; did you really need to draw a few cheap laughs at the expense of alienating and entire skin color?
Why am I even asking this? We’re talking about Chris Rock, here. Making fun of white people is his claim to fame.
Anyhow, endless “white people suck!” jokes aside, was this movie very funny? Sometimes, but not often. It was more a drama than a comedy, honestly, and wasn’t sure what kind of humor it wanted to use. Sometimes it was the aforementioned stale anti-white stuff, sometimes it was lowbrow sexual humor of the nasty variety, sometimes it was bizarre “wha?” humor and sometimes it was just plain old witty dialogue. It felt a bit inconsistent and went long periods without even cracking a single joke. At other times it included completely unnecessary gags that did nothing to enhance the story and felt tagged on at the last minute, such as the entire Viagra segment.
For what it was, “I Think I Love my Wife” was okay, but there was far too much wasted potential. If Rock could have stuck with the strength of his script, cast and story rather than hurling unnecessary penis and cracka jokes then the entire film would have been better for it. As it stands, “I Think I Love my Wife” came out rather luke warm.