Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chris Rock finally gets one right

Last night I went to a screening of Chris Rock's new movie, cowritten by him and Louis C.K., called I Think I Love My Wife, adapted into a comedy from a French film called Cloe in the Afternoon. It stars Chris Rock, Kerry Washington and Gina Torres. Both writers stayed after the screening for what turned out to be a hilarious Q&A.

A nice, white collar businessman must face the conflict between responsibilities and desires when his sexless marriage is threatened when a seductive old girl friend comes back into the picture.

I'm not married, have never been married and don't have any kids and I'm not black. But this story about a middle class black man in a marital crisis totally resonated. This was a movie anyone who's ever been in a long term relationship can relate to, regardless of economic class or race or gender. And it was funny.

It's about a time a movie about a black man was more than a "black" movie. This is not an urban film; it's a story. The soundtrack includes Biz Markie and The Foo Fighters. The white people aren't all evil bumbling overlords and the black people aren't loud and high. It's a film about people, pure and simple, and all the characters are well developed with backstories and front stories and desires they keep hidden from each other just like normal people do.

It's quirky. There's a sort of dream sequence where Chris Rock's character imagines all the glorious sex he'd be having if it weren't for his wife. There's even a musical number that comes in at just the right moment to feel completely organic to the story.

And it's not easy. You really feel the man's dilemma. And you feel the wife's dilemma and you feel the other woman's dilemma and you honestly don't know what he's going to do, and you're not entirely sure you know what he should do.

This is not Head of State or Pootytang. Chris Rock has finally done something real and shown that he can actually do a film that means something and raises the bar on comedy at the same time. But he didn't do it on purpose. He only picked up Cloe in the Afternoon because he liked the naked girl on the cover.

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