Based on Eric Rohmer's "Chloe In The Afternoon" back in the early '70's, I Think I Love My Wife is Chris Rock's look at a successful African-American undergoing a mid-life crisis. Too bad one of our strong comedic voices is less edgy and more mediocre on a project he directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and stars in set primarily in New York City.
Rock seems to also be channeling Blake Edwards if one is reminded of 10 with Dudley Moore and a bodacious Bo Derek, but to little humorous effect. He tries to extend his screen presence like Jim Carrey's dramatic attempt in The Number 23. The result might make Rock fans wish he employed the wit and vivacity of his TV show "Everybody Hates Chris."
Here, Rock plays Richard Cooper finding himself in a seemingly perfect, yet unfulfilling marriage, doing quite well as an investment banker. The premise of Rohmer's funny French fable is at work here with Richard trying to manifest his lust for a fantasy girl. He can't as his lovely wife Brenda (Gina Torres) won't please him and they're in couple's therapy. Apparently, he's a somewhat gutless daydream believer.
One doesn't get much character from the tempestuous Nikki (Kerry Washington of The Last King of Scotland) who was an old girlfriend of one of Richard's pals. The zaftig, sultry, skill-less Nikki will lead Richard around with some peculiar needs with scenes in a swank nightclub and a tenuous situation in D.C. where they both manage to make the authorities less efficient than one may think.
Essentially, the script by Rock and colleague Louis C.K. doesn't create much beyond the premise of the bored suburban businessman. The question that is in place concerns the connection of Richard and the audaciously looking Nikki, almost like a shiny ornament for him. Unfortunately, one becomes far less unfazed than Richard apparently is.
The production elements, despite a nice feel for the Big Apple, are mostly comparable to the deficiencies of story and characters. Even, the narration of Richard is more irritating than it should be. The observations of a man paranoid of the opposite sex who is "distracted" by a waitress in a restaurant just adds to the film's one-dimensional nature.
I Think I Love My Wife raises more questions than it answers, especially when it comes to Brenda and Nikki. More directly, the importance of a marriage and the power of lust. As wonderful as Washington can be, as in the aforementioned Scotland or Ray, she really only comes across as a single-minded caricature.
Normally solid character actors like Steve Buscemi and Edward Herrman aren't used for their talents as the guilty, philandering colleague of Richard and the gruff, old school Wall Street tailored boss, respectively.
The lifestyle of a middle-class man of a tempted Richard isn't nearly sharply portrayed in a movie that is as tentative as its title from an outspoken entertainer willing to showcase atmosphere and eye candy. It just awkwardly loafs with a corporate uniform conscience about married life and women all around. Without the instinct of the excitement that could happen in Rock's native New York.