I Think I Love My Wife

Tiffany White

When you strip away all its jokiness and "Rock-isms", there's actually a good film hiding in here.

I Think I Love My Wife

Director: Chris Rock
Cast: Chris Rock, Kerry Washington, Gina Torres, Steve Buscemi
Distributor: Fox
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
First date: 2007
US DVD Release Date: 2007-08-07

Who knew comedian Chris Rock could direct a solid drama? Sure, I Think I Love My Wife might be classified as a comedy, but I know a drama when I see one. The doomed future of a sexless marriage held together by strings of loyalty is a reality known all too well by some couples. The film casually dips its hands into the topic not by portraying tragic figures, but with characters who are relatable and empathetic, played with a surprising splice of honesty and realism...sort of.

I Think I Love My Wife is one of Chris Rock's "better" movies, and unfortunately that's not saying much. Like other comedians, Rock has repeatedly fallen victim to the "the movie rut". His much loved comedy in his stand-ups seem to never quite translate to screen. In this effort, Rock seems to have hit a home run by co-writing a screenplay that deals with the same topic he openly jokes about: marriage. Rock even admits in the commentary that most of the jokes in the film were taken directly from past stand up acts. But even though the comedy here is essentially "Rock", it's also what drags the movie down to what could have been an otherwise good drama.

Rock plays Richard Cooper, a successful businessman who lives with his loving wife (played by Gina Torres) and two children in a beautiful home in the suburbs. Unfortunately, Richard is bored with his life, his wife won't have sex with him, and he spends most of his free time daydreaming about random women he passes on the street.

One day in walks Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington), a sexy friend of a friend who entices Richard and tempts him to cheat on his wife. Richard is fascinated by Nikki because she represents his past before he surrendered to the world of diapers, mini vans and endless monotony.

I Think I Love My Wife was originally adapted from a French film called Chloe in the Afternoon. When Rock saw the French film, he figured it would also make a good, interpreted comedy. This was his first mistake.

After writing the script and pitching the idea to several studios, when it came to casting the lead instead of casting a "Denzel Washington type" (Rock's words, not mine), he opted to casting himself in the lead, instead. This was his second mistake. On the surface it seems I Think I Love My Wife would be the perfect vehicle for Rock, but there are too many factors in the film that work against it as a comedy, a lot having do with Rock and his character.

Its biggest flaw is Rock as an actor. Unlike in past films where Rock mostly plays himself, Rock actually makes an attempt to become someone else. When the film begins, there is something odd to Rock's narration. After a minute or two, it becomes clear the narration sounds odd because Rock isn't being Rock. I guess it's not fair for me to critique the acting skills of someone who's never been a real, bonafide actor, but I Think I Love My Wife is not like Rock's role in the film, Head of State. In I Think I Love My Wife the character of Richard is a fully dimensional, sympathetic, flawed human being. Rock's limited acting ability can't fully convey this and the numerous "Rock-isms" peppered throughout the film only show Richard doing and saying things that are uncharacteristic.

For example, in one scene where Richard goes to a club to wait for Nikki, the scene shows Richard looking out of place and apprehensive as he sits at a bar and waits. It then cuts to Richard dancing around and becoming the life of the party. When Richard is told Nikki isn't coming, he looks embarrassed for showing up and runs out of the club. The problem with this scene is Rock sacrificed Richard's character for the sake of the joke. When Richard shows up to the club, it's obvious from his dress and demeanor that he feels awkward and old amongst the young, vibrant lifestyle he no longer identifies with. Although the scene with Richard getting down to D4L's "Laffy Taffy" is sort of funny, the behavior is too unlikely for the character.

But there are a few jokes that work. Well, the scene where Richard fakes an argument with his wife to get out of the house is one. The scene where Nikki and Richard throw dollars out a window and watch as the people below tackle each other for it is another. But mostly the jokes either fall flat or feel out of place, especially in certain scenes where it gets too jokey. In the commentary, Rock admits that in a scene involving Viagra, he goes too far.

The performances of the leading ladies, Nikki and Richard's wife, are both played exceptionally by Washington and Torres. Washington is especially impressive as the complex, troubled Nikki and her performance makes you wonder why she doesn't get better roles. The DVD is also packed with your usual goodies. Rock's commentary is actually quite informative and not as funny as you might expect it to be. The blooper wheel is a bit disappointing with few bloopers actually on it. The short documentary on the casting of the movie is also a disappointment as it seems to only skim the surface before ending two minutes later.

In a broad sense, I Think I Love My Wife has all the right ingredients. When you strip away all its jokiness and "Rock-isms", there's actually a good film hiding in there. But see it for the drama, not the comedy.







Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."


The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.


Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.


Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.


Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.


Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.


The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.


Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.


'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.