Review: 'I Think I Love My Wife' a bit shaky 

"I Think I Love My Wife" is aseven-year-itch comedy that is inspired by Eric Rohmer’s "Chloe in the Afternoon" and directed by Chris Rock, and that’s an even crazier mismatch than Adrian Lyne redoing Claude Chabrol, as French-based remakes go.

Unsurprisingly, Rohmer’s premise — a married man tempted to cheat on his wife with a woman he platonically spends his afternoons with — proves nothing more than a departure point for Rock, who’s also the film’s cowriter and star. Rohmer takes his subjects only from A to B, but as they struggle over romantic choices within that slight stretch, they exhibit meaningful conflict and evolution. Rock gives you big antics, coarse rants and Viagra gags.

Cowritten by Rock and Louis C.K., the comedy presents the fidelity crisis of Richard Cooper (Rock), a Manhattan investment banker and family man. Bored in his seven-year marriage to his schoolteacher wife, Brenda (Gina Torres), Richard fantasizes about other women.

Mere fancies become extreme temptation when Nikki (Kerry Washington), a flirtatious old friend, enters Richard’s office and starts visiting daily.

Rock, who also directed "Head of State," is sharp as a comedian, but, when directing himself in a story that requires character dimension and plot credibility, he’s shaky. The movie feels like one-half romantic comedy and one-half stand-up act. Neither is very funny.

While Rock the filmmaker displays some acumen when depicting issues such as marital monotony and race relations, he too often tries to get laughs from smart-aleck ravings and cheap gags. A Viagra pill causes an overreaction. The women are either henpecking nonsexual wives or unmarried temptresses.

Rock the actor, meanwhile, conveys little serious inner battle in Richard as he deals with his dilemma, and consequently, you can’t deeply care about the choice he’ll ultimately make. And unlike Rohmer’s human comedies, in which the sparkle is in the blips and ripples, Rock’s movie clunkily channels its tension toward the will-he-or-won’t-he moment. The climax is unremarkable.

Faring better is Washington, who manages to suggest some sadness in the potential home wrecker she’s playing. Best, though, is Steve Buscemi as Richard’s philandering colleague.

I Think I Love My Wife **

Starring Chris Rock, Kerry Washington, Gina Torres, Steve Buscemi

Written by Chris Rock, Louis C.K.

Directed by Chris Rock

Rated R

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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