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The Stepford Wives

Comedy movie directed by Frank Oz

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A fun yet flawed look at the dangers of conformity.

  • Jun 14, 2004
Rating:
+1
Pros: Some good acting and laughs.

Cons: Week second half, Broderick is very bland.

The Bottom Line: While it has some laughs, the film drags in parts and sputters to a finish.

In suburban America of the 50’s, the ideal family was one that conformed to the standards of the community and knew their neighbors well. Such families were hard working and took part in social events in the community and were often ready to lend a hand when needed.

Times have changed and with many families headed by working parents, many families struggle to find the balance between career and family, as there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do it all.

One such person is Joanna Eberhard (Nicole Kidman), the hottest Network President in New York. Joanna has it all, power, fame, the appreciation and respect of her peers, and the top network in the nation. Things take a turn for the worse for Joanna when a contestant from a reality show causes an incident that forces the network to replace Joanna, thus setting her into a wave of depression.

Seeing this change in life as a chance to save their faltering marriage, Joanna’s husband Walter Kresby (Matthew Broderick), moves them and their two children to Stepford Connecticut to reside in an exclusive community. At first it seems idyllic as the community is filled with amazing houses, lavish parties, and plenty of interesting and friendly people.

One such person is Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler), a writer who trades quips with the flamboyant Roger Bart (Roger Bannister), and finds amble humor in the wives of Stepford, who look like refugees from 50’s sitcoms and are so perky and perfect that it borders on nauseating.

The quirky nature of the town soon begins to wear on Chase, and she suspects something is very wrong in the town when the people around her seem to change into bizarre parodies of themselves overnight.

Before long, Joanna and Walter have to confront the town leader Mike (Christopher Walken), and learn the hidden secret of the town that threatens to unravel the existence of their new lives.

Based on the popular novel by Ira Levin, Director Frank Oz has crafted a biting social commentary about the dangers of conformity and losing ones individuality. Kidman, Walken, and Midler are solid and Bannister gives a breakout performance as the flamboyant Roger, easily getting the best lines in the film. Broderick seems sadly miscast, as though a gifted performer, he comes across blandly and does not generate much interest from the audience. In many ways, his character is little more than a generic husband, and he is often reduced to mobile scenery in many films.

The film loses steam in the second half as it starts to drag and the outcome carries on a bit long, with Glenn Close chewing the scenery as the film builds to the climax, which is largely under-whleming. It was obvious that there were segments edited in the finale as scenes lack cohesion and do not seem to be setup properly making the outcome seem slap dash. That being said, “The Stepford Wives” is an entertaining if flawed film, and you should have fun just as long as you do not expect too much.


3.5 stars out of 5


Recommended:
Yes

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More The Stepford Wives reviews
Quick Tip by . September 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Had fun watching this on TV yesterday. It's entertaining as well as good scripting. A movie that may appear silly at first but highly intellectual and interesting for the ending. Great cast!
review by . August 30, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Frank Oz's eagerly awaited comedy/thriller remake of THE STEPFORD WIVES turned out to be a great big fizzer when it was released in the summer of 2004. Whilst it does pale in comparison to the earlier 1975 Bryan Forbes film (based on the controversial Ira Levin novel), I believe that the remake of STEPFORD WIVES still has the ability to stir debate and argument about the delicate balance of power in married relationships.    When hard-driven TV executive Joanna Eberhart (Nicole …
review by . January 05, 2005
Once again Nicole Kidman has proven to the world that you don't have to be that talented to be a big success. Ever since "Moulin Rouge" and "The Hours," people have been gushing about how glamorous and great Kidman is. Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but if it weren't for Tom Cruise, we probably would have never heard of her. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed her in "The Others," but none of her other movies have ever made me breathless or cry.    "The Stepford Wives" …
review by . November 11, 2004
THE STEPFORD WIVES is a funky outing that takes to task the dumbing down of the wealthy class. While everyone knows the plot of the original book and 1975 movie, few will recognize the parody that Frank Oz has created. Everything is over-the-top, including performances by such actors as Nicole Kidman, Glenn Close, Matthew Broderick, Jon Lovitz, Roger Bart and Christopher Walken - each of whom seems to be out to do parodies of their usual 'roles'. But if you like movies like Practical Magic and Rat …
review by . June 18, 2004
Pros: Bette Middler, Roger Bart, funny moments     Cons: some logic problems, Broderick seems lost, not scathing enough     The Bottom Line: I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin/ My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M. - Styx - "Mr. Roboto"     Although Frank Oz’s remake of the 1975 Stepford Wives film is set in the present day, the setting and tone are confused as he transforms the thriller into a dark comedy. …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #112
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie

Wiki

An all-star cast remakes the 1975 socio-political horror flick,The Stepford Wives. After being fired as president of a television network, Joanna (Nicole Kidman,Moulin Rouge) has a nervous breakdown, prompting her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick,Election) to take her to a simple Connecticut town called Stepford to recuperate. But Stepford is a little strange: The schlubby husbands congregate at a closed-doors men's club, while the wives--all in bright summer frocks and air-brushed smiles--exercise to keep their hourglass figures and cook endless pastries. Joanna, along with new arrivals Bobbie (Bette Midler,Beaches) and Roger (the very funny Roger Bart), soon discover that the mastermind of Stepford (Christopher Walken,Communion) has used cybernetics to "perfect" womankind.The Stepford Wiveshas some satirical zingers (from sneaky screenwriter Paul Rudnick,Addams Family Values), but the basic idea has lost a lot of gas since 1975. Also featuring Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction).--Bret Fetzer
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Details

Director: Frank Oz
Genre: Comedy
Screen Writer: Paul Rudnick, Ira Levin
DVD Release Date: November 9, 2004
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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