Movie for Misogynists

'I Think I Love My Wife' provides further evidence that Chris Rock should avoid films

A down-on-his-luck guy with a great job and a beautiful wife is tortured by a woman from his past, and he's tempted to stray from his marital union. This is the tired premise of I Think I Love My Wife, an empty-headed, unfunny Chris Rock comedy.

When looking over Chris Rock's 20-year film career, it's amazing how many gutter balls he has thrown. The movies he has headlined have all been bad. He's had some funny scenes and cameos in Kevin Smith films, and his quick appearance as the rib-joint customer in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka remains his best film moment.

I Think I Love My Wife is actually Rock's second feature directorial effort. He also helmed Head of State in 2003, and his directorial abilities haven't improved much. The film is rated R, which should allow the normally caustic comedian to let loose a little more than he has in past cinematic fare. The opposite actually happens; Rock restrains himself in this picture to the point of total dullness.

He plays Richard Cooper, an investment banker and married man who likes to bitch about the large underpants worn by his beautiful wife (Gina Torres). His marriage is going through a cold no-sex spell, and he's getting a little anxious. In walks past friend Nikki (Kerry Washington), who is looking for a letter of reference--and who winds up semi-stalking him at the workplace. The two commence a platonic relationship, with sex always boiling under the surface.

The more time Richard spends with Nikki, the more lies he has to tell to sneak around behind his wife's back--yet he's not getting any sex out of it. The film actually tries to portray Richard as some sort of victim, a sexually deprived fellow heroically standing tall against temptation. Give me a break.

Rock puts himself in a pair of glasses and a tie in order to convey a proper business-type individual. He's all wrong for the part. While he can show flashes of brilliance as a comedian, his acting has always been subpar. The wardrobe department can't bail him out. Truth is, I don't think any actor could've saved the film from its screenplay. Since Rock co-wrote it, he takes blame across the board.

Rock wrote the film with the very funny Louis C.K., and it seems the two harbor some bitterness toward women. They throw in a lecherous male (played by an amusing Steve Buscemi) to try to even things out, but it's to no avail. This is a movie for misogynists, and there's no avoiding that conclusion.

The tone of the film is all over the place. At times, it plays like a normal, humdrum marital drama, while other moments call for slapstick. A sequence where Richard must have blood removed from his penis during a Viagra crisis seems too over the top compared to the rest of the film, as does the movie's awful musical conclusion.

The film's angry and insulting portrayal of women doesn't help. Washington, a gifted actress, does the best she can with her one-dimensional, meddling "bitch temptress" role. Torres also tries hard with her "bitch wife" role. Other female characters in the film include nosy, judgmental office workers, promiscuous partygoers and flirtatious department-store clerks. The only positive female in the movie would be the kid playing Rock's daughter.

Perhaps some comedians aren't meant for the big screen. The TV show Rock produces (Everybody Hates Chris) is fun, and his HBO specials always provide laughs. He appears to be straining too hard in movies, even when he's playing a laid-back type. His next two projects are vocal work for cartoons. That's no surprise.

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