Do you want the security of being married or the fun of being single? Guess what? You have to choose! That “cognitive dissonance” is the foundation for both films. Each leading man, Chris Rock and Zach Braff, has to deal with what they feel is the suffocation of being in a committed relationship. Both characters desperately want the freedom they experienced as single men and thus enter into new friendships (imagine, if you will, that word being in “air quotes”) with exciting and promiscuous women, as played by Kerry Washington and Rachel Bilson. These different relationships propel each character into the obvious conclusion that they actually do love their “wives.” This is the cinematic equivalent of having your cake and eating it, too. Okay, bizarre analogy but you get the idea…
I went to see “I Think I Love My Wife” with a male and female friend and let me tell you how their opinions of the movie differed! (Actually, you guess.) The movie revolves around the life of Richard Cooper, who is a suburb livin’, New York workin’ family man. As much as Richard loves his frigid wife, his three children, and his boring job, he longs for something more in his life. In walks a blast from the past, or Nikki, who comes to see Richard after many years. Richard and Nikki evolve into the flirtiest friends, and Richard starts to entertain more and more ideas that are, shall we say, “problematic” for a marriage vow. As his outside friendship grows more complicated and time consuming, Richard and Nikki both realize that the “cheat thing” is going to happen sooner or later, and probably sooner. In a sudden twist, Cooper, instead, runs home to his wife and (I’m not kidding here) sings out his frustrations until they both arrive at the conclusion that they still committed to each other. Like they say, whatever works…
The Defending Champ
This film just recently got its DVD release and I know this because I actually purchased it as a gift for a friend. “The Last Kiss” tells the story of the anxieties of being in a relationship through the different stories of a group of childhood best friends. The main story is about Michael, or Zach Braff, who is in a three-year relationship with his soon-to-be mother of his child. The overwhelming emotions of an unplanned pregnancy lead Michael to stray into the arms of a younger college girl named Kim. The thrill of sneaking around, gaining freedom, and losing responsibility puts Michael to the road of infidelity. But the brilliance of this film is the road back to fidelity, where Braff basically lives on the doorstop of his girlfriend’s house for a week to prove that he is committed.
Two movies, same theme, wildly different presentations. “I Think I Love My Wife” takes the comedic approach, letting Chris Rock’s narration as a married man with hidden single activities, become Rock-like and, mostly, hilarious. “The Last Kiss” goes for the dramatic approach through Zach Braff’s interactions with the mutating relationships around him, like his best friends or his girlfriend’s feuding parents. But despite the different approaches, the relatability of “The Last Kiss” compared to “I Think I Love My Wife” allows the film to connect to his audience on a much deeper level. I can actually imagine a man camped on a doorstep for a week as a sign of commitment, but singing, well, that seems a little “written.”
As much as I enjoyed the performances in “I Think I Love My Wife,” there was not one moment, where I felt that the movie was authentic in any real sense of the word. In fact, I laughed at a lot of the jokes of the movie, but I laughed more (in the wrong way) at the craziest events of the movie, like when Chris Rock catches a plane with Nikki on a workday or that singing bit. On the other hand, while “The Last Kiss” might have been a bit long and bogged down, I did feel that it displayed genuine human emotions and existed in somebody’s real world (if not quite mine). So, don’t get wrapped up in a world of impractical situations and confused emotions and, instead, go and rent “The Last Kiss” because this world may just look a little like your own. Rock’s gonna be on DVD in about 30 seconds anyway…