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The Stepford Wives (2004)

  Directed by: Frank Oz
Written by: Ira Levin, Paul Rudnick
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken
Links: The Stepford Wives on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 3.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

The Stepford Wives (2004) is also mentioned in mino's review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).

"Three movies in one — and they all suck" - a review by mino

I'll start off by saying that I've never seen the original The Stepford Wives (1975). I'm not sure whether that counts for or against me when it comes to this remake (or, as they seem to be called oh-so-often now, ‘reimagining’); but, given how much I thought this remake-or-reimagining stank, I don't see how it could have counted for me.

Nicole Kidman plays Joanna, a stressed-out TV executive who eventually goes over the edge, forcing her equally high-powered TV executive husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) to shut up shop and make for the sleepy township of Stepford, Connecticut, in order for them to calm down a little and get their lives back on track. But Stepford — seemingly a nice, normal, if old-fashioned, town — isn't, of course, what it seems. Everything is just a bit too old-fashioned. The men prance around playing golf and smoking pipes, while the women take great delight in doing housework, and go out of their way to do anything they can to keep their menfolk happy, June Cleaver-style. At first, Joanna is bemused by this, particularly once she makes the acquaintance of a kindred spirit, sarcastic Bobbie Markowitz who, being played by Bette Midler, isn't exactly a subservient little creature. Over time, though, they realise that something a little more sinister is up, and maybe Stepford's elder statesman Mike Wellington (Christopher Walken) is up to no good.

The Stepford Wives is a movie that has quite a lot of potential. In fact, there are three different movies that could be made here: an insightful satire/morality play, a toungue-in-cheek retro comedy, and an actual thriller. Any of these would have been good; unfortunately, director Frank Oz tries to make all three at once, and fails miserably.

I don't know if this was the case, but the movie has that ‘butchered by a test audience’ feel to it, and it never once manages to find a rhythm. Just when there's a funny scene building up, out comes the social insight and derails the whole thing. Right when there's a satirical point being made, some second-rate thriller aspects creep in and ruin the scene; and just when there's a bit of a scary/freaky vibe coming on, someone makes a stupid joke and ruins the atmosphere, almost like clockwork.

The whole thing then builds up to a spectacularly lame ending which tries to work in all three of these aspects at once, and instead just leaves you flabbergasted that they even bothered trying one of them. Honestly, the ending is so irritating, poorly-executed, and obvious that they would have been better off just cutting the movie off five minutes early, bringing up the house lights, and letting everyone go ‘what the hell was that!?’ — it would save everyone five minutes, at least.

There are some good moments, largely thanks to the always-entertaining (even when dealing with shitty material) Walken and also from Matthew Broderick, who is really a very good actor. Jon Lovitz delivers the occasional good line as Bobbie's boorish husband, but alas, these folk aren't enough to save this pooch. The Stepford Wives is not funny, not insightful, and not particularly thrilling. Parts of it don't make sense at all, no matter how much you think about it, and there are continuity errors up the hoo-haa. Kidman is disappointing, as is Midler, because — well, she's in it. That's usually disappointing enough, isn't it?

mino gives this movie 3 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 9 Aug 2004

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Reader comments

  1. a movie deeper than the normal good guy bdad guy stuff... nice twist at the end too

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from ashlea on Fri 01 Apr 2005 14:22 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 7.00 (1 rating)

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