I Think I Love My Wife
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Investment banker Richard Cooper has carved out a seemingly wonderful life for himself. Beautiful wife. Two adorable young kids. Nice house in the suburbs. Steady job that brings in enough to not only keep up with the Joneses but whiz by them in a shiny new SUV.
But Richard's bored. "And to be honest," he says after spouting a few f-words for emphasis, "I don't know how much more of this I can take." The main problem, he claims, is the lack of sex in his marriage. His wife, Brenda, works full time, takes care of the kids and the house, and has 101 reasons why she's not in the mood. So Richard works his way around the problem ... in his head. Every chance he gets, Richard ogles beautiful women, imagining one-night stands and steamy affairs.
His fantasy world collides with reality when, out of the blue, an ex-flame of an old friend stops by the office to reconnect. Only, that's not all Nikki has in mind as she quickly turns Richard's routine life upside down.
At one point midway through his relationship with Nikki, Richard vows to stay true to his wife. He momentarily decides to "stop complaining about what I don't have and start appreciating what I have." Though it's presented with a wink as a delusional idea, Richard asserts that in relationships, "You don't have to have sex" to show your love.
[Spoiler Warning] Seconds before acting on a disastrous decision, Richard is reminded of his family and suddenly realizes what he truly has in Brenda and his kids. He's smart enough to know that if he goes forward, he'll lose them all, so he returns to Brenda and immediately expresses his love and appreciation for her. After they apologize to each other for letting their marriage grow stale, they vow to set it on the right course again. "Life is about choice," Richard intones via voiceover in probably the film's wisest moment. "You can't choose when you were born. ... You can't even choose who you love. But you can choose how you love."
Nikki's voicemail greeting ends with, "Love is God, God is love—peace."
Since Richard is obsessed with titillating images and sexual scenarios, the filmmakers must have figured moviegoers would want to see what he sees and think about what he thinks about. Thus, the camera takes its time panning across Nikki's curves, many of which she removes clothing to make sure everyone sees.
She's in bra and panties when Richard arrives to finally consummate their affair. Before it's over, she's teased and tantalized him, and he's taken her panties off. There's no explicit nudity, but the scene is intense in both the way the camera treats their interaction and in the way that it depicts Richard's grappling with whether or not to succumb to temptation. Another scene has Nikki taking off her sweater and walking around in her bra. Other women show cleavage—among other body parts. There are several scenes that include fondling and touching.
Besides dressing provocatively, undressing provocatively, and using her body as a sexual weapon, Nikki talks frankly and frequently about various aspects of married and single sex. In her conversations and in others, there are crude references to intercourse, talk of oral sex, homosexual sex, masturbation, strippers, pornography (we briefly see one image), porn stars and affairs. A lengthy sight gag repeatedly shows Richard's erection (under blankets and pants) after he takes Viagra.
A co-worker warns Richard to stay away from Nikki yet brags about bedding various women (including a new 23-year-old intern) to keep his 17-year-old marriage going strong. A montage of fantasy images shows Richard unleashing crude come-ons and whisking women off to have sex with them.
A trip to retrieve some of Nikki's belongings from an ex's apartment ends with the man punching and kicking Richard. After police arrive, they beat up on the former flame with billy clubs. Most of the fighting takes places offscreen, as is the case with gunshots heard shortly after. (We learn from a news report that the man shot the cops.)
Crude or Profane Language
Seventy-plus f-words and more than 20 s-words. God's name is combined with "d--n" a handful of times. Despite Brenda's lectures on the harmfulness of using the word "n-gga" around their kids, Richard and others still utter the term around 20 times. They all (including Brenda) are also responsible for an additional 35 profanities and some extremely vulgar sexual terms.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Much is made of Nikki being a habitual smoker, including her claim that she's not actually a smoker but is just trying to lose weight. She's shown lighting up in almost every scene she's in. While waiting for her at a club, Richard gets stoned smoking marijuana, and he downs a bottle of liquor. Brenda spends a night drowning her sorrows with a bottle of wine. Richard pops a double dose of Viagra.
Other Negative Elements
It's said that Nikki's high school boyfriend tried killing himself after breaking up with her. In an effort to be funny, sensitive issues of race are used divisively.
A remake (of sorts) of the 1972 French film L'Amour l'après-midi (Chloe in the Afternoon, as it was released in the U.S.), I Think I Love My Wife presents a classic case of better than but not best. We'll cut directly to the chase: While Richard avoids the final, physically consummating act of his affair, he still has an affair. The movie preaches strongly that the final act of adultery will likely destroy your marriage, and you should think long and hard before doing it. But it largely gives a pass to the process, thoughts and compromises that lead up to that act.
Secret lunch dates. Out-of-town rendezvous. Ongoing lies. Richards learns to rationalize and accept these things—while Brenda casually accepts the pornography she finds on his computer as "nothing serious."
Give director and actor Chris Rock credit for trying, at least. OK. Don't. While taking a backward route to underscoring a simple message (water the grass on your own side of the fence and it'll grow far better than the neighbor's), and before getting around to a ridiculous "baby, I done you wrong" musical number that makes you glad the credits are next, Rock fancies dosing audiences with all the reasons why marriage is mundane and playing the field is fun.
Let's put this another way: On his way to making a great point, Rock spends most of his time shooting it in the foot, then stabbing it in the heart, then mocking it as it bleeds. His movie views marriage as joyless—unless wives can hang on to that "ho" quality that supposedly attracted their men in the first place. It views women in general as, in the words of Newsday's Jan Stuart, "either pouting spoilsports, nagging, frigid soccer moms or man-eating vixens." And it establishes the "fact" that "when two people admit they're attracted to each other, they're no longer in control. The relationship has to play itself out for better or for worse."
Those tortured ideas are somewhat balanced by Rock's earlier onscreen revelation that "you're going to have to live with the choices you make for the next 50 years." And, thankfully, Richard does turn that moral corner in the nick of time, allowing wife and family to win out. But I Think I Love My Wife has already married itself to so many other abysmal messages—not to mention raw content that includes sexual imagery and almost 150 profanities and obscenities—that its final moments seem trite, if not downright irrelevant.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Chris Rock as Richard Cooper; Gina Torres as Brenda Cooper; Kerry Washington as Nikki Tru; Steve Buscemi as George
20th Century Fox
Marcus YoarsSteven Isaac