WEB EXTRA: Foggy Bottom to Hollywood: GW alum Kerry Washington stars in Chris Rock vehicle “I Think I Love My Wife”

While at GW, Kerry Washington (“Ray,” “The Last King of Scotland”) performed with Generic Theater Company and loved watching Recess Improv Group. She was a resident adviser (now called House Proctors) for what she called the “scandalous camera clad halls of Thurston” and her favorite memory was performing on the Lisner stage for the first time her freshman year. Now, her stage is much bigger.

After performing in several critically acclaimed films, Washington turned the tables and took up a much less serious, much more sexy role as Nikki Tru in the new Chris Rock movie, “I Think I Love My Wife.”

“I don’t like to do the same thing over again,” said Washington in an interview with The Hatchet. “I like to live through the lives of different people. I keep trying to change (my roles) up, keep myself on my toes.”

The new film, which comes out March 16th, was directed by and stars Chris Rock. Taking a slight variation from his normal persona, Rock plays a successful investment banker, Richard Cooper, in Manhattan, with a beautiful wife, Brenda (played by Gina Torres) and two children living out in suburbia. The only problem is that he has not had sex with his wife in ages, and he wants to get some.

Conveniently, an old girlfriend of a friend randomly turns up at Richard’s Manhattan office. Although appearing to only ask for a recommendation letter, scantily clad and siren hot Nikki begins to see Richard nearly every afternoon for lunch and other random “errands.” What ensues is what could be considered an emotional affair. Richard and Nikki never have sex, although they come close, but Richard stays mum about his relations with Nikki to his wife, while everyone in his office looks on, passing obvious judgments.

I have never been a huge fan of Chris Rock as a comedian. I find him slightly abrasive and rough, and sometimes his voice just rubs me the wrong way, but “I Think I Love My Wife” is a definite variation from Rock’s normal routine. For one, he plays a reserved, responsible man. However, definite Rock mannerisms come forth in the movie in random outbursts by Rock’s character. The final, most outrageous random outburst is when Richard and Brenda are making up and they both break into song, like a musical.

While Rock may appear slightly crazy on stage, Washington says he is actually a reserved person, and when he is on stage he turns on.

“Chris is an observer,” Washington said. “I was impressed by how he was organized and very clear, he laid out everything.”

One part of the movie that irked me a bit is the emphasis on race. Brenda and Rich spell out “B-l-a-c-k” and “W-h-i-t-e” when in front of their children, and there is a large emphasis in the movie of black people sticking together. However, Washington said Rock’s approach to the issue of race is similar to Woody Allen’s approach to being Jewish, or Spike Lee’s approach to race.

“(The movie is) poignant, smart and really funny,” Washington said. “(Rock) treats race in a similar way to Woody Allen; it’s more a part of the cultural world of the characters, not the entire tone of the film.”

The movie does have some very poignant parts as Washington said. Although it is a comedy per se, there exist some very serious issues such as infidelity and loyalty.

“I think the film is a really great conversation sparker, it has inspired open honest provocative dialogue,” Washington said.

Washington is a poised, stunningly beautiful, articulate woman, nothing like her character Nikki. However, as much as Washington may separate herself from her character, she said that Nikki is more than just a pretty girl looking for an affair.

“Nikki was a really.tough character,” Washington said. “I thought, wow, it would be so exciting to figure out the psychology of Nikki, how does she justify her behavior? It totally fascinates me.”

Although a slightly better film than most of Rock’s performances, “I Think I Love My Wife” is a “sophisticated comedy,” which means that it’s a drama with some comedic moments. Most of the time I was cringing for Rock’s character and all his awkward situations, although I usually savor and enjoy awkward moments. I would not normally pay to see the movie in theaters, but because of the GW connection, I would maybe consider renting it on some boring night.

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