THE STEPFORD WIVES
Review by Michael Jacobson
Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Bette
Midler, Jon Lovitz, Faith Hill
Director: Frank Oz
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 9, 2004
question…how do you remake a classic horror film with a famous twist ending
that virtually everybody knows? Second
question…how do you review the remake while referencing the original without
giving it away?
Frank Oz had to answer the fist one himself.
The second problem is all mine. So
only way to remake The Stepford Wives in the new millennium is to make it
as politically correct as possible. The
way the filmmakers chose to do it was to heighten the camp and have as much fun
with the premise as possible, while making sure the ending rectified and
resolved any sexual related difficulties. As
a result, the new movie lost all of the bite of the original, but became a kind
of kooky, fun, interesting contraption of its own.
(Kidman) is a gung-ho, ambitious president of a television network whose career
takes a drastic turn for the worse in the opening moments.
As a way to recover from the shock, she agrees to move with her husband
(Broderick) and children away from the jungles of New York and into the suburban
paradise of Stepford, Connecticut.
a place with beautiful homes, green grass, blue skies, and “perfect”
women…emphasizing the quotation marks, because the wives of Stepford all seem
to be born out of a male chauvinist fantasy.
They are all blonde, beautiful, submissive, love to do housework, and
worship their husbands. And, of
course, they have a secret…something sinister is lurking in Stepford.
secret of the wives, which was kept for a knockout punch in the original movie,
is actually let out of the bag quite early on here…guess the writers figured
there was no point in even pretending modern audiences didn’t know what a
“Stepford wife” was. The
trouble is, they had to opt for an entirely new ending, which they concocted
seemingly to take the danger out of what the story was meant to be.
It may not sit well with fans of either the first movie or the novel it
was based on, who probably like the untampered with version enough not to desire
a PC remake. In fact, one key
shocking visual near the end, that was obviously meant to mirror an iconic image
from the original movie, actually makes no sense at all in conjunction with what
the writers constructed for their finale.
tone is a bit uneven throughout. The
first twenty minutes or so are over the top and campy…in fact, it’s a bit
painful to see an actress as talented as Nicole Kidman having to ham it up so
badly. Once it settles in, it moves
at a good clip and keep our interest. But
the ending, as I’ve stressed, is a complete sellout and a letdown.
could they have remade this movie differently in this day and age?
I don’t have a clue. Maybe
the point is that some films are better left untouched and in their original
is a mostly fine anamorphic transfer from Paramount. Colors are plentiful and bright throughout, and each tone
renders with clarity and integrity. A
few darker images strangely lose definition and seem a little grainy, but there
aren’t too many of those.
5.1 soundtrack is fairly lively despite being a mostly dialogue-driven comedy.
Surrounds are used mostly for ambient effect, while the subwoofer stays
mostly dormant. Spoken words are
clean and clear, and dynamic range is fairly good.
are plenty of extras in Stepford, starting with an enjoyable and informative
commentary track by Frank Oz. It’s
a pleasant listen as he discusses casting, working with the actors, how certain
ideas evolved or were done away with and more, including how discarded ideas
were carefully “edited” around to actually change certain storylines!
featurettes chronicle the production, including the making-of, a definition of
“Stepford wives”, the men of Stepford and more. They feature cast and crew interviews and plenty of
there are 6 deleted scenes, a gag reel, and both the teaser and theatrical