With I Think I Love My Wife, Chris Rock remakes Chloe in the Afternoon, the final installment of Eric Rohmer’s “Six Moral Tales,” and it’s not as big a stretch as it sounds. Rock’s provocative comedy has always confronted issues of marriage and fidelity, and those topics are also the lifeblood of co-writer and long-time Rock partner Louis C.K.‘s own work (including his recent, blisteringly inappropriate and hilarious HBO stand-up special Shameless). Still, just because this union of artist and material isn’t a complete mind-bender doesn’t mean that it works. Rock’s second effort behind the camera following the forgettable (no, really, forget it) Head of State finds the comedian starring as Richard, an investment banker bored by his suburban Westchester life with Brenda (Gina Torres), his wife (and mother of his two kids) whose main failing is that she won’t screw her husband. When fantasyland vixen Nikki (Kerry Washington), an old acquaintance, shows up in his office, Richard is faced with an opportunity to release some of the sexual frustration that builds with every hottie-populated Metro North train ride into Manhattan. Rock pays homage to Rohmer’s classic in an amusingly profane Bryant Park-set montage, and his observational skills about temptation and middle-class African-American life have a witty incisiveness. Yet he replaces his source material’s sly complexity—only glimpsed via Richard’s discussions with openly adulterous co-worker George (Steve Buscemi)—with sitcom-ish gags (about Viagra and condoms) and a good bit of misogyny in which women are either frigid and dull (Brenda) or sexually ravenous and dangerous (Nikki). Had it bothered giving its female protagonists any nuanced humanity, I Think I Love My Wife might have successfully offset some of the odiousness emanating from Richard, a selfish prick who thinks he’s the world’s axle. As it stands, however, the film comes to feel like a vehicle designed to let Rock first vent about balls-and-chains and their slutty, harpy inverses, and then be absolved of such nasty attitudes by an unearned Hollywood ending which proves that marital lovemaking and bliss can be yours if you nag enough, refuse to ravage gorgeous women in stilettos, and avoid changing anything about your egocentric self.
- Fox Searchlight Pictures
- 90 min
- Chris Rock
- Chris Rock, Louis C.K.
- Chris Rock, Kerry Washington, Gina Torres, Steve Buscemi, Edward Herrmann
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