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I Think I Love My Wife (2007)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/7/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/1/2007
I'm not sure why, but Hollywood must hate marriage. No matter where you look, whether it be in movies or on TV, you'll find something that is making marriage appear to be the worst thing ever. In these worlds, husbands are miserable and wives are uptight and bored. Based on this, why on Earth would anyone ever get married? Why do thousands of couples get married every week if their lives are going to be hell? This tired cliche is dragged out once again in the Chris Rock project I Think I Love My Wife.
Rock stars in I Think I Love My Wife as Richard Cooper, a mild-mannered investment banker who is married to Brenda (Gina Torres). Richard and Brenda have been married for seven years and they have two small children. And they are in a rut. They never have sex anymore, and Richard is very frustrated by this. Despite the fact that they've seen a marriage counselor, Brenda always comes up with excuses to not be intimate and Richard grows more distant.
One day, while at work, Richard receives a visit from Nikki (Kerry Washington), a sexy woman who once dated one of Richard's friends. Nikki has just moved back to New York City, and asks Richard for a job reference. Richard is clearly shocked and unnerved by Nikki's visit, as he finds her very attractive. After that, Richard and Nikki begin to see each other quite often, having lunch and sight-seeing. During this time, Brenda begins to notice Richard's odd behavior. Will Richard's unhappiness with his marriage drive him to cheat on his wife?
When Chris Rock first appeared on the scene in the early 90s, he was a breath of fresh air. Following in the footsteps of fellow comedians Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, Rock's approach was raw and in-your-face, and he wasn't afraid to tell it like it was. But, he also had an intellectual approach as he questioned stereotypes and social customs. He carried this approach through his stand-up, his TV show, and his movies. However, with 2004's Never Scared concert, Rock began to reveal a darker, more bitter side which simply wasn't funny. That side is definitely present in I Think I Love My Wife, a film which is neither funny nor fresh.
There are two major factors which make I Think I Love My Wife such a disappointment. First, the movie shows no originality. Forget the fact that this movie is a loose remake of the French film Chloe in the Afternoon. I Think I Love My Wife has all of the originality of a sitcom as it plays off some of the most tired stereotypes that there are. Bored husband? Seen it. Cold wife? Seen it. Young temptress? Seen it. Even given the stagnant nature of this kind of story, one would think that Chris Rock of all people (along with co-writer Louis C.K.) would find a way to put a new spin on it, but that never happens. The movie is incredibly predictable and anyone who doesn't see every moment of this movie coming must be experiencing film for the very first time.
Aside from the originality, the story doesn't flow very well. Aside from the "excuses" which we hear, we never truly learn why Brenda no longer wants to have sex with Richard. Despite the fact that they are seeing a marriage counselor, this fact, which is at the root of Richard's frustration, is never fully explored. Despite the fact that this film is supposed to be a comedy, it tackles some serious issues, but this one is never developed. The movie makes Richard look like he's the one who has the problem because he wants sex. And yet, there is clearly a major issue with Brenda which is never examined. On the flipside of this, Richard's relationship with Nikki is all flirtation. So, he doesn't get sex from her either. This raises the question, why does he keep seeing her? All of these small questions result in a film where none of the characters are likeable.
The other disappointing factor with I Think I Love My Wife is that it's not funny. In the DVD featurette, Rock states that after seeing Chloe in the Afternoon, he knew that he could take the idea and make it a comedy. Someone let me know when that happens. There are some moments in the film's first few minutes when Rock throws out some good one-liners, but from that point on, the movie isn't funny. And when Rock is funny in the opening, he's not funny as Richard Cooper, he's simply being Chris Rock the standup comedian. Many comics fall into this trap -- Robin Williams and Jim Carrey come to mind -- but Rock becomes a different person in the film when he's trying to be funny.
Is every marriage perfect? No. Do some couples go through serious problems? Yes. But, that's no excuse for I Think I Love My Wife to be such an angry, cynical film. Chris Rock paints a portrait of marriage as an icy wasteland where men can never win. The movie has no warmth for its characters and its barely amusing. This is a serious misfire from a man who was once one of America's greatest comics.
I Think I Love My Wife sneaks around on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD features both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. I spotted some defects while watching this DVD, but they may be related to the fact that I was watching a preview copy. The opening credit sequence features a series of still images. The transitions between these images was marred with excessive pixellation. I noted further pixellation and video noise on the image later in the film during any sudden camera movement. There was an overall "pattern" on the image, which reminded me of textured wallpaper. Otherwise, the image is clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look fine. But, that pixellation was impossible to ignore. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fine. As this is a dialogue-driven dramedy, there isn't much in the way of surround sound or bass response, save for a club scene, where the audio really kicks in.
The I Think I Love My Wife DVD contains a few extras, spread out across both sides of the DVD. Director/producer/writer/star Chris Rock provides an AUDIO COMMENTARY for the film. When Rock asked at the five minute point, "What else do you need to know about this freakin' movie?", I knew I was in trouble. This talk is like pulling teeth, as Rock struggles to find something to say. He's certainly good at pointing out extras and telling us who was in Woody Allen movies. "I Do Love Making this Movie" (10 minutes) is a featurette in which Rock describes the film's origins, and then co-writer Louis CK and actors Washington and Torres talk about the story, the characters, and the making of the movie. They also look at Rock as a director. The DVD contains 13 ALTERNATE AND DELETED SCENES, which run about 11 minutes. There is really nothing new here and only one scene, where Richard and Nikki attempt to guess which pedestrians will enter a strip club, has any humor. The BLOOPERS (2 minutes) are more like a continuation of the deleted scenes, as we see several alternate takes. In "Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session" (9 minutes), Rock discuss how he chose the actors for the main roles.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long