I Think I Love My Wife
Good romantic comedies are hard to make. Good romantic comedies geared toward a male audience are damn near impossible to make. I can think of one good one, and it is not Chris Rock’s latest vehicle, “I Think I Love My Wife” (it’s “High Fidelity”).
In “I Think I Love My Wife”, Rock stars as Richard Cooper, a bored investment banker whose relationship with his wife, Brenda (Gina Torres, “Serenity”) has come to a stand still. Enter old college friend Nikki (Kerry Washington, “Ray”), who has come to him looking for help, first in getting a job, then in getting an apartment and it just spirals out of control from there. Thoughts of infidelity swarm through Richard’s head as Nikki tempts him throughout the course of their newly reformed friendship.
Rock is without a doubt one of the funniest stand-up comedians working today. But he’s a terrible actor. His background in stand-up is evident, he tells a joke on screen, then holds for laughs. This permeates through to the rest of the cast, and it drags everybody’s performances down. Even the great Steve Buscemi can’t escape this fate.
While Rock and fellow comedian Louis C.K. were able to construct a mostly funny strain of jokes into a somewhat coherent plot, it wasn’t enough. The writing was too all over the place. It wasn’t consistent enough.
Rock as a director has yet to impress me. His first film “Head of State” was a disaster, and this flick wasn’t much better. And it’s unfortunate, because he’s one of my favorite comedians, so I like to support him in what he does, but his other projects just don’t work. If he finds the right project, and I don’t know what that would be, but if he finds the right project, he could have a great movie. He just needs to find and do the right one.
This flick failed where “High Fidelity” succeeded. “High Fidelity” was a romantic comedy geared towards a male audience, and it was a group of guys talking about what guys go through in their love lives and it was something that guys could relate to. Maybe it was John Cusack’s “average guy” appeal that propelled that movie to a higher level. But Rock doesn’t have that. All the characters were basically stereotypes. The gorgeous forbidden fruit tempts the bored businessman away from his overbearing yet sexually disinterested wife, and his cheating business partner is rooting him on, yet telling him to be careful.
The only thing that I thought was smart or clever about the flick was the development of the Nikki character. She was always representing the forbidden, the taboo of our modern culture. When Richard and Brenda go shopping, Brenda buys plain under garments, while Nikki buys more risqué lingerie. Nikki is always shown smoking, with someone telling her she can’t. Richard has grown up, has responsibilities, and Nikki invites him out to the clubs one night. So she’s not just a sexual temptress, there’s more to her that could be seen as forbidden to Richard. I found it to be the cleverest thing about the movie.
Now, it certainly isn’t the worst romantic comedy ever made, it’s not even the worst romantic comedy this year. But if you want to laugh at other people’s love lives, one of my favorite pastimes, you could do much better than “I Think I Love My Wife.” Because I know I hate this movie.