A vapid entry into the Seven Year Itch genre of midlife-marriage-crisis movies, Chris Rock's I Think I Love My Wife proves his talent as a stand-up comic streaming foul-mouthed invective does not guarantee the charisma needed for co-writing, directing and starring in a romantic comedy about flagging marital vows.
Anticipating Ice Cube's Are We Done Yet? – an African-American revamp of Cary Grant's Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House – I Think I Love My Wife is a remake of Eric Rhomer's 1972 Chloe in the Afternoon. Voice-over narration gives us the measure of unhappy buppie Richard Cooper's (Rock) alienation. The successful banker has grown bored of his staid suburban comfort zone of wife (Gina Torres) and babies, and fantasizes about the nubile hotties who ride the morning commuter rail in their skintight club wear.
The temptation to act on his urges arrives via a sexy college friend, Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington) who shows up in a femme-fatale red dress and causes office tongues to wag with her daily visits, dangling some new crisis for Richard to sort out.
Though the comedy stage allows for a ribald outpouring of rage, sexual frustration and misanthropy, Rock here is yoked to a middlebrow formula picture complete with Viagra jokes, goofball fantasy interludes and some weirdly virulent rage directed at women pulsing beneath the surface. While the common-enough circumstance of marital woe places the film in the realm of the believable, an increasingly ludicrous plotline repels any real investment in the ensuing froth. Stand-up that he is, Rock seems to do most of his "acting" through voice-over thoughts, never deviating from his poker-faced, blankly unresponsive acting style.
Predictable and unimaginative at every turn, like all such tales of middle-class angst, I Think I Love My Wife telegraphs us as to where it will end up.
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