Chris Rock as Richard Cooper
Kerry Washington as Nikki Tru
Gina Torres as Brenda Cooper
Steve Buscemi as George
Edward Herrmann as Mr. Landis
Welker White as Mary
Samantha Ivers as Tracy
Michael K. Williams as Teddy
Cassandra Freeman as Jennifer
Stephen A. Smith as Allan
Wendell Pierce as Sean
Milan Howard as Kelly Cooper
Directed by Chris Rock
Chris Rock has created a truly universal comedy about relationships that's worth more than a few laughs regardless of your race, gender or marital status.
Richard Cooper (Chris Rock) is supposedly happily married with a beautiful wife (Gina Torres) and daughter, living in a nice house in Westchester and commuting into the city for a good-paying job, but he is bored with this lifestyle. Along comes Nikki (Kerry Washington), a sexy free-spirited acquaintance from Richard's past, and suddenly, he has to decide whether to be faithful or grab this one opportunity for an affair that will spice up (and possibly ruin) his life.
People come to expect certain things when seeing a movie starring Chris Rock and "I Think I Love My Wife" certainly offers a lot of the same sharp delivery of no-holds barred humor we're used to seeing. It also might be the most representative film of Rock's career in terms of bringing his humor and vision to the screen, being that he wrote and directed this comedy based on the premise in Eric Roehmer's 1972 French film "Chloe in the Afternoon."
The film starts out like one of Chris Rock's comedy routines with his voice-over telling the viewer about the problems with married life. We see him at home and at the office, as he commutes between them in a regular routine that's become boring. When Nikki (Kerry Washington), the girlfriend of an old school chum, shows up, having just moved to New York from Washington D.C., the two start spending a lot of time together. Even though their platonic relationship is frustrating to Richard, everyone at his office is assuming he's having an affair and the temptation to cheat on his wife is far too great for Richard to say "no" when Nikki wants something, even convincing him to help her move in the middle of an important workday, creating more problems at the office. His wife is also getting angry with the way he's been ignoring his family to "work late at the office" and also is assuming that he's having an affair.
There's little question that Chris Rock's fans will either be pleasantly surprised by his latest venture or greatly disappointed, depending on their expectations. This is a very different beast for the comic actor, one that allows him to show a bit more range, though it might throw some of Rock's fans off that he isn't the cocky joke-cracking persona they're used to, but he does create a fine everyman that any man whether single or married will be able to relate to. At first, he comes across a bit sexist in his views on women, but as Nikki starts getting him into deeper troubles, you can't help but feel bad for him. Many guys might be able to relate to his situation of having a sexy female friend who creates temptation while keeping them at arm's length as a friend, but it's particularly frustrating for Richard who hasn't gotten any from his wife in a long time.
Despite the focus on relationships, Rock's movie is far raunchier than its surface appearance as a "chick flick" might convey, so guys might enjoy that R-rated humor as much or more than women. A lot is brought to the table by Rock's writing partner, comic Louis CK who brings some of the same observational relationship humor he had on his HBO sitcom "Lucky Louie."
Rock's smartest move was to hire Kerry Washington as the sexy temptress Nikki, because she turns what might have been a brainless bimbo into a smart and sexy woman, who just happens to also be a wild and uninhibited party girl. Washington plays up the sexiness of Nikki, especially when she's talking dirty, but Nikki isn't the normal male-created female stereotype, being far more three-dimensional and real. Gina Torres also does a decent job, breaking away from type as Rock's wife, while Steve Buscemi tones down his own comic delivery to play Richard's philandering boss, who steps in when things seem to be spiraling out of control.
Although some of the jokes are obvious and others don't work, the movie only really falters towards the end when Richard has second thoughts about cheating on his wife, leading to an out-of-place R 'n' B duet between Rock and Torres as they try to work out their problems. Breaking into song like that seems to come from out of nowhere, and it's the one scene that really flops badly.
Rock might not be the most groundbreaking visual director ever, but he's more than capable at setting the right mood and tone for these characters and their story, sometimes taking an approach that be surprising, like by using a Foo Fighters song as a key part of Richard's relationship with Nikki.
The Bottom Line:
While this movie probably won't have any appeal to those who don't like or appreciate Chris Rock's comic stylings, his fans might be surprised that he's able to show off more range while creating a movie that's far more universal than one might expect.