Chris Rock's loose remake of 1972's Chloe In the Afternoon, the latter an entry in French New Wave genius Eric Rohmers Six Moral Tales cycle, is a half-silly, half-starchy adult comedy about a buttoned-up money manager, Richard Cooper (Rock), whose staid life at home has worn down his sexual vitality. With two kids and a somewhat joyless wife (Gina Torres), Richard's mind wanders on the job, on the train, virtually anywhere a restless husband can spot beautiful, unattainable women. Still, no harm done, until old friend Nikki (Kerry Washington) shows up in his office, wanting his support and counsel and friendship every minute over subsequent weeks. The two stay out of the sack, which makes it possible for them to be honest with one another. Nikki criticizes Richard for being in what appears to be a loveless relationship, bled dry of passion. Richard calls out Nikki for being flighty, unwilling to commit to anything.
As the relationship wears on, Richard's world is upended, and the havoc takes a toll on his family life and productivity. It's at this point where the film, co-adapted for the screen and directed by Rock, paints itself into a corner, with few interesting alternatives for a way out of Richard's dilemma that feel authentic or, for that matter, funny. A Viagra-inspired visual joke (gee, hard to imagine what that could be) is a crass gift to audience members growing suspicious that Rock has lured them into a chick flick. A soul duet between Rock and Torres appears out of nowhere and throws the emotional balance off at a crucial moment. This kind of thing makes one wonder how seriously Rock took his own project, yet there are signs that he--a very funny and intelligent talent--has a different kind of movie in him. Jokes about Michael Jackson, race, and even racially-slanted comedy are peppered throughout I Think I Love My Wife, harmless distractions in context, yet suggestive of a different kind of movie satire waiting to come out of Rock. --Tom Keogh
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