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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.4%
Worth A Look: 10.99%
Average: 19.78%
Pretty Bad: 28.57%
Total Crap36.26%

6 reviews, 55 user ratings

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Stepford Wives, The (2004)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Far From Perfect"
2 stars

It’s hard to know where to start apologizing when the stories of a troubled production get more press time than what’s being put into it. From the start there were last-minute cast changes, then onto egos challenging the mood of the set and finally reshoots a few weeks before opening for the icing. I never like to buy into what’s usually petty gossip cooked up to stir publicity. Some of the greatest actors and directors in the world are temperamental on the set, so who really cares? Nevertheless, The Stepford Wives arrives dead-on-arrival and it’s hard to criticize what went wrong if the backstory holds its secrets. But you can begin precisely where any film generally begins – with its script.

It gets off on the right track. Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) is a powerful TV executive unveiling her new lineup of female-empowered reality shows. When an embittered husband from “I Can Do Better” fires off a few shots at her, the network cans Joanna citing the damage of potential lawsuits. She suffers a “complete nervous collapse”, her husband, Walter Kresby (Matthew Broderick) quits his job and packs up the family for a new start in the community of Stepford, Connecticut.

Anyone with a first sense will notice something odd about its inhabitants. It’s a 1950s barefoot-and-pregnant appliance commercial with the women dressing the part and catering to their husband’s every request. Man-hating author Bobbi Markowitz (Bette Midler) has been living there for some time but only raises her suspicions when Joanna comes to town. Claire Wellington (Glenn Close in the film's one true comic performance) resides over the women like a PTA mother from hell and hubby, Mike (Christopher Walken) runs the local “Men’s Association” where the town’s big secret is held.

The roots of satire are in place, but someone clearly forgot to bring the water. Whether you’ve seen or even just know the original 1975 cult classic based on Ira Levin’s novel, said secret is pretty obvious and revealed rather early. Remote controls are under the power of every man in town and short circuits may cause sparking and excessive square dancing. Say it with me now – “A robot! Ash is a goddamned robot!”

Here is where the nonsensical mess of a screenplay (or its rewrites) begins. It’s made rather clear that the women are mechanical versions of their former selfs. One unfinished robot is put on display to offer the cheap eye-opening scare and another wife literally acts as an ATM machine. Later on, however, it’s revealed that Mike’s science actually involves placing microchips on the woman’s brain to control her. He’s also appears trusting enough to allow a non-scientist to perform the procedure himself thus giving them the opportunity to pull a bait-and-switch. So if these women are really still human, how does the robot connection fit? If they ARE robots, then why would anyone want them to maintain the memories of who they once were? It doesn’t compute and that’s just the technical side of things.

It’s been more than thirty years since the sexual revolution put into play the idea of “I am woman, hear me roar!” To call the broadness of these caricatures antiquated would lop off the label of satire. But surely we’ve come a lot farther than to reduce feminism and boys-will-be-boys to cold-hearted career women and playing with their toys. Are we to believe that these stunning females ALL married these nerdly little weasels, successful as they may be or not? If they did it for their own power trip to be the man of the house, does it make them any better than the men destined for a comeuppance? Alas, it’s not presented that way in the movie, so it’s just one less idea lost in the wind.

Do we really want our women to be perfect anyway? Everyone has their own idea of perfect which makes everyone unique. Why does one person’s idea of flawlessness fit into every Stepford male’s plan? Cutting through the bull, does any man really care if their woman is Suzie Homemaker? Don’t they just want a hot bod, constant sex and the elimination of nagging? Or is that just too simple as well?

Screenwriter Paul Rudnick (aka Premiere Magazine’s Libby Gelman-Waxner”) is more in love with the gay subtext than a true dissection of the sexes that it gives new meaning to the term “confused.” The characters unconvincingly change their behavior from scene-to-scene (those that CAN change it anyway.) He also saves all his eggs for a climactic speech that’s supposed to make the audience go “oh, that’s what this all meant” as if digging deeper and spelling it throughout the other 80 minutes would have been a slow encode for its automaton audience.

It’s easy to understand how a gay screenwriter and a director who controlled puppets for a good part of his career would be the perfect choices for this material. Rudnick collaborated far more successfully with director Frank Oz on 1997’s In & Out about an effeminate male who is outed before coming-to-terms that he was ever in. The attack on the stereotypes worked there, but also brought with it a humanity that’s sorely lacking here (for those that ARE human…or not robots…oh forget it!) A few scattered laughs come-and-go (A shot at America Online and a great non-sequitur by Jon Lovitz are the best.) But if Rudnick’s last two scripts are any indication (Isn’t She Great?, Marci X), The Stepford Wives should have known it was in trouble from the beginning.

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originally posted: 06/12/04 02:58:12
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User Comments

8/06/08 Screwball It was okay for a sunday afternoon 3 stars
8/24/07 Matt Forgettable fluff with a few amusing moments. Wait for it on TV. 3 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Really funny parody of a classic tale of horror. 4 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini boring, dull, etc. 1 stars
10/08/06 isis ok... 3 stars
6/08/06 Peggy Doty GOOD REMAKE OF AN OLD MOVIE 4 stars
5/22/06 Diane P very very bad and disappointing 2 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Atrocious. Walken is even bad. Didn't see that coming. 1 stars
10/27/05 deadwiz I found it quite funny. Nothing special though. 3 stars
10/20/05 odditie Survivable 3 stars
10/19/05 the untrained eye At least the original had Katherine Ross' boobies. 1 stars
8/26/05 Nick Worst movie ever! Are they robots or implant victims? Why was there a Nicole Kidman Robot? 1 stars
4/30/05 alice stupid, boring, loved the first one this one sucks 1 stars
1/12/05 Tom Benton A brainless and simple remake that can be enjoyable. 3 stars
11/15/04 Gabby Why why why why? What's the point? What a waste of celuloid! 1 stars
10/23/04 R Smith Film should have attacked bullies and wife beaters. 1 stars
9/27/04 alicia to put it eloquently: it sucked 1 stars
9/09/04 farwonth Maybe one or two laughs, the rest ...what the f#$% 2 stars
9/08/04 Gary Newton technicolour battle of the sexes,well acted but just a tad cheesy 3 stars
9/08/04 Wes Luther C'mon valerie hart. This could put an end to one's being a fan of Nicole! 1 stars
9/01/04 Wanda Ruhr Needed Ashley Judd in it. Then we'd have been warned that it is atrocious. 1 stars
8/29/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne C'mon K Man, WATERWORLD is a masterpiece compared to this braindead harpy vomit! 1 stars
8/28/04 K Man just as shi--y as Waterworld 1 stars
8/26/04 Maureen McDevitt It had some pretty funny lines... but totally missed the point of the original. 3 stars
8/24/04 Millie Maelstrom Insults men, women, Christians, Jews alike. Blames victims. Real harpy turd of a movie! 1 stars
8/16/04 McGraw Bad, bad, bad...a totall mess of a film. 1 stars
8/07/04 Alien assassin Don't you dare do this to "Westworld", Mr. Oz !!! 1 stars
8/01/04 valerie hart wotch it for nicole if ur a fan of hers uwill luv the film if not its to light hearted 4 stars
8/01/04 Daniel Roemer This movie is wonderful and the ending is even better 5 stars
7/26/04 My Two Cents Very funny black comedy. But too short. Could have accom a few more scenes. 4 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz confusing & not to good 2 stars
7/17/04 legend Where to being with this awful film...umm..a fire would be nice. Save your money. 1 stars
7/14/04 crystal Dood, Nicole Kidman... 5 stars
7/12/04 sd Such promise, such a mess. Set designers can hold head up, however. 2 stars
7/09/04 J Cadiramen Watch it for Nicole, and enjoy Bette to boot! A hoot! 5 stars
7/04/04 Carly I think this movie was way better than the first and Nicole Kidman is an amzing actress. 4 stars
6/27/04 Deanna Schlocky but so was the original movie. Message: we've gone to far to go back now. 4 stars
6/19/04 SF Glenn Close is the only thing worth watching. 3 stars
6/19/04 Carrielle I thought it wasthe best of the summer it ROCKED!!! 5 stars
6/19/04 Gray not one positive straight male is shown fuck this flick! 1 stars
6/19/04 Emily i didn't like it 2 stars
6/18/04 Ryan Nice 4 stars
6/18/04 Unanon My only funny theatre experience here was a lost toddler calling for her mommy. Seriously. 2 stars
6/16/04 Lola Awesome story Line but this remake was pathetic. It was pretentious and un-funny. 1 stars
6/16/04 Boyinthedesignerbubble The new cast was good, but the original was still far better. 3 stars
6/16/04 Marce It was light, fluffy and entertaining; extactly what it aimed to be and nothing more. 4 stars
6/15/04 Rex if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie 1 stars
6/15/04 Norm Hilarious!! 4 stars
6/14/04 roy Worthless 2 stars
6/14/04 The Talking Elbow Jason Oz, how come you only gave your dads movie 4 of 5 stars? 3 stars
6/14/04 Kelly Nicole Kidman's more concerned with her collagened lips and overacts -- it's distracting 3 stars
6/13/04 Anne Peterson tries to push a silly, watered-down feminist angle and just reinforces stereotypes 1 stars
6/12/04 dave go watch garfield, its better than this crap 1 stars
6/11/04 Jason Oz Support my dad! 4 stars
6/11/04 robert berkoff pass 2 stars
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  11-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004



Directed by
  Frank Oz

Written by
  Paul Rudnick

  Nicole Kidman
  Matthew Broderick
  Bette Midler
  Glenn Close
  Christopher Walken
  Jon Lovitz

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