DVD Release Date:  August 7, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  March 16, 2007
Rating:  R (for pervasive language and some sexual content)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  94 min.
Director:  Chris Rock
Actors:  Chris Rock, Gina Torres, Kerry Washington, Steve Buscemi

Richard Cooper (Chris Rock) is an investment banker in a mid-size Manhattan firm.  He earns a great living, has a charming wife, two adorable young children, and a beautiful Victorian house in the suburbs.  The problem, says Richard, is that he’s bored.  However, as Richard narrates his story, we soon see that he’s really just . . . well . . . feeling like any man who hasn’t had sex with his wife in a long time. 

Brenda Cooper (Gina Torres) is a gorgeous, hardworking schoolteacher who feels like most working moms do at the end of a busy day.  Frankly, she’s exhausted.  In addition to her job, she also has to get dinner on the table, change poopy diapers and run her household.  So the last thing she wants is to engage in conjugal antics before bedtime.  Her excuses, which will make any married woman smile, range from “My face hurts” to “It’s not your birthday.”  But unfortunately, they’re causing Richard’s lust to spin out of control.

He can’t stop leering at women, undressing them with his eyes and imagining what they would be like in bed.  Of course Richard’s also a realist who’s been married seven years, so he remembers what sex was like with Brenda in the beginning—before things turned sour.  So he also can’t stop his cynicism about those women as well.  “How long,” he asks ruefully, “before those beautiful lips start calling me an $%&*$#@?”  And though tempted by unrealistic nostalgia about how many women he “could have had,” he’s also pretty pragmatic about the reality of being single. “When you’re single, you’re lonely,” he concludes.

It is in this ambivalent mindset that Richard runs into the ex-girlfriend of an old friend.  Nicky Tru (Kerry Washington) shows up at Richard’s office, ostensibly to “catch up.”  She’s sexy, single and very, very available.  And for some reason (probably the challenge) she wants the very married Richard.  She convinces him that he is unhappy with his wife and proceeds to show up, day after day, giving him a bit of the carefree banter he’s been missing.  Eventually, this starts to wear on Richard’s defenses.  It doesn’t help much that he hasn’t mentioned Nicky to his wife, either.

Chris Rock, who wrote, directed and produced I Think I Love My Wife, has been trying to make this film for years.  It’s loosely based on the 1972 French film, Love in the Afternoon by acclaimed director Eric Rohmer.  Released in the U.S. as Chloe in the Afternoon, the French film is much more somber, in the Rohmer style, so it’s only the basic storyline that Rock follows.  In his stand-up comic style, he has removed any ambiguity and added lots of American humor—even about race.  And if you’ve ever contemplated the subtle racism that still pervades society, you’ll appreciate these jokes. 

Richard is the only black investment banker in the firm, for example.  “So I know all the other blacks who work here,” he says, greeting the (black) custodian and the (black) maid.  Then, in the elevator, a black courier starts singing offensive rap lyrics while listening to his headphones.  Horrified, Richard backs away as fast as he can.  Also, no one in the office bats an eye at the ongoing adultery of Richard’s colleague (Steve Buscemi, with his excellent-as-always deadpan smarminess).  But when Nicky starts showing up, the entire office is abuzz, implying that they’re holding Richard to a different standard.

The film is extremely loose when it comes to language and sexual themes, with frank discussion about marital sex (specifically, the lack thereof), men’s lust and the reality of temptation.  If you can get past this, however, you’ll find that Rock makes some insightful points, all within the context of excellent acting and direction (and a few clichéd jokes that should have been scrapped).  First, Rock shows us how hard marriage is.  Second, he shows us how crucial sex is for married men, who can otherwise find themselves distracted.  “The most dangerous time in a marriage is when a couple accepts that they aren’t having sex,” he says.

Wives, Rock seems to say—especially those who are busy with jobs and young children—may not realize the importance of this physical connection.   Fortunately, Rock also makes it clear that both partners are usually at fault for any divide (with an unfortunate song).  His ultimate conclusion:

“Life is about choice.  We’re all the sum of our choices.  And most of them are made for us.  You can’t choose where you’re born.  You can’t choose when you’re born.  You can’t choose your family and you can’t even choose who you love.  But you can choose how you love.”

A surprisingly truthful film.

AUDIENCE:  Adults only

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Commentary with Chris Rock
  • Bloopers
  • Alternate and Deleted Scenes
  • Casting Session featurette
  • Trailers
  • Featurette: “I Do Love Making this Movie”

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Alcohol is consumed throughout film, sometimes conspicuously.  In one scene, characters smoke pot.  In another, a male character takes Viagra, which has a negative affect, resulting in hospitalization.  And one character smokes cigarettes throughout film.
  • Language/Profanity:  Strong.  At least five dozen uses of the f-word and several dozen more profanities, obscenities and crude slang terms
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Strong.  Male character exhibits strong objectification of women, repeatedly lusting after strangers as he narrates the sexual acts he would like to perform with them.  He makes overt sexual advances toward his wife.  Various shots of female legs, breasts (clothed), etc. including one extended scene where a woman wears only a bra and bikini underwear.  In another, a man undresses a woman, although only side nudity is seen.
  • Violence:  Mild to Moderate.  In one scene, a man brutally beats another before the police arrive, then shots are heard offscreen.  Later, a television journalist announces that the man shot two police officers before being apprehended.