I Think I Love My Wife is a film Chris Rock made much too early in his directorial/screenwriting career.
In 2007, Rock now had the honor of being proclaimed The Funniest Man in America, yet his comedies rarely lived up to that billing.
Wife marked his second directorial/screenwriting effort and again, it would have been fine for an Orlando Jones/Eddie Griffith vehicle, but even in 2007, it was underwhelming for Rock’s considerable talent.
The premise, based on Eric Rohmer’s Love in the Afternoon, is solid, but was in need of a more confident, daring approach like Rock delivers with his standup.
Richard (Rock, Madagascar) is a successful executive married to a beautiful teacher Brenda (Gina Torres, Serenity) with two lovely children, but married life has grown stale the past seven years. There’s no excitement, especially in the bedroom, prompting him to fantasize about having sex with the various women he sees on his daily commute.
A chance encounter with Nikki (Kerry Washington, The Last King of Scotland), an old friend who’s everything Brenda isn’t — sexy, fun and most importantly unpredictable — may give Richard a chance to scratch his sexual itch.
Rock pulls triple duty as he stars, directs and co-wrote the film with Louis C.K. Thumbing through Netflix and seeing Rock teaming with Washington and Louis C.K. seems like a can’t miss comedy, but Rock hadn’t yet been able to put together the complete Chris Rock film experience.
Here, Rock plays it way too safe sticking to boring by-the-numbers conventional approaches to the premise. No cliché is left behind and the film is all the more predictable for it.
Richard’s co-workers think he’s having an affair, he’s lying to Brenda about hanging out with Nikki, Nikki enjoys playing the seductress despite knowing about Richard’s wife and Richard is seriously confused about his feelings for his wife. The film plays out like a sitcom — just one that’s lacking consistent laughs or a laugh track.
Rock and Louis C.K. are largely uncommitted with the title question resorting to outlandish scenarios as the basis for why Richard should remain faithful.
Playing against type as the sexpot bad girl, Washington is alluring, captivating and fascinating. She’s easily the highlight of the film, but perhaps does too convincing a job as it’s hard to imagine Richard not straying.
Even at a brisk 94 minutes, the film feels too long and in need of tighter editing particularly with the funny jokes that are stretched out so long they lose their effectiveness.
This is a definitely a film I’d make a case for a director/screenwriter getting a do-over. Just imagine how much more authentic, topical and engaging this would be if Rock made this film in 2015 instead of eight years too soon.
As is, I Think I Love My Wife is little more than a minor curiosity if you want to see Olivia Pope attempting to break up a happy household years before Scandal.