Cast: Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill, Glenn Close, Roger Bart, Jon Lovitz
Director: Frank Oz
Writer: Paul Rudnick
Rated: M sexual references
Running Time: 93 Minutes
The Wives Of Stepford Have A Secret
Stepford has a secret. All of the wives are far too perfect, and all of the husbands are way too happy. 'The Stepford Wives' is a sophisticated and comic re-imagining of the 1975 suspense classic. Welcome to Stepford - the American way of love.
If you remember the 1975 version of 'The Stepford Wives' don't be concerned that the memory will spoil this 2004 version. This is very, very different, including a totally different ending (which was changed apparently, after test audiences panned the original ending). Essentially, the outline of the story remains the same - Joanna Eberhard (Nicole Kidman) moves to the idyllic town of Stepford with her husband Walter Kresby (Matthew Broderick) and their two children. Joanna was fired from her high profile job as tv network executive, suffers a breakdown and so they move to Stepford to try to re-invent themselves and have some well-earned rest.
The first person they encounter upon entering Stepford is Claire Wellington (Glenn Close) who seems so perfect. Stepford becomes an enigma to Joanna and she feels there is something strange with some of the residents. She meets and befriends Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler) who doesn't seem affected, and also a gay man, Roger Bannister (Roger Bart). They investigate the oddly affected wives until one by one, they too are under the Stepford spell.
The town of Stepford is wonderfully splendid with no expense spared on the sets. The costumes are fabulous with Glenn Close looking as good as she did in the '101 Dalmatians' movies, but with a 50's theme. All the Stepford wives are gorgeous Barbie doll look-a-likes and the men are all plain and chauvinistic, except maybe Mike Wellington (Christopher Walken). But is all this enough to sustain the movies credibility? Hardly. The saving grace is the work of Bette Midler who has perfect comedic timing with some brilliant lines and also Glenn Close as the 'leader of the pack' of the Stepford wives. If it weren't for these two, then there wouldn't be much left to save Stepford. Roger Bart also has some great campy lines but you have to wonder why there is a gay couple in the re-make.
The trouble with 'The Stepford Wives' is that it doesn't seem to know if it is a thriller or a comedy or a drama. The story is well set up, and badly let down by a poor 'let's tie this up neatly' ending. The science fiction angle is neglected; the thriller aspects are also neglected at the expense of trying to be too clever with a too clever ending. But still, there are some redeeming features, it's just a pity they are so scarce.
Rating : C