(Spoiler warning, if you haven’t read the book, seen the old movie, heard the expression, seen any and all of the ads, or have otherwise not been in contact with human beings post 1970)
Last night I could have seen Chronicles of Riddick and witnessed the coolest sci-fi movie in years. Instead I went to see The Stepford Wives, so I could review it for you guys. You bastards owe me big. The original Stepford Wives was a pretty cool film, if not one that I’ve exactly tattooed on my back. It had a becomingly biting sense of black humor, a keen bit of social satire, and one of the most singularly bone chilling moments I’ve ever seen in a horror film. This Stepford Wives doesn’t really have any of these things. But thankfully it does have Christopher Walken acting weird, which can only be seen in approximately 67,235,791,012 other movies this year.
The Stepford Wives stars Nicole Kidman stars as reality TV exec, who after some plot development stolen remorselessly from The Fisher King decides to escape stressful city life with her husband Mathew Broderick (Yeah right Matt). It is impossible for me to convey with mere words how badly this opening section of the movie works, beginning with toothless satire and winding up at places that nobody, aside from that guy sitting next to you giggling quietly at the Rambo II revival, finds funny. Such cheeky, lighthearted, humor filled subjects as office massacres and electroshock therapy start this off on the wrong foot.
Eventually they end up in Stepford a peaceful perfect town, Nicole Kidman, Mathew (Har Har) Broderick and her two kids (Who appear and disappear so conveniently for the plot that one is tempted to think they wear pagers), think that they have found the perfect place. After all nothing could be happening in a sleepy little town like this, besides the conspiracy to change the towns female population into soulless automations of course (I don‘t consider this a spoiler since it’s been blown in every single god damned ad for the film).
Of course at this point the movie could have gotten back on the track, after all it is the actual Stepford Wives of The Stepford Wives that we’re paying to see right? Unfortunately it doesn’t. The result is The Stepford Wives is not so much a train wreck as a train wreck that goes flying off the tracks and ends up taking out a school bus full of cancer kids, an old folks home, and a box of kittens.
The satire has simply lost its bite. For those who have seen the original there is nothing nearly as funny or smart as the “Frank’s the champ” scene. The writing is simply putrid, failing to find any comic possibilities when their have literally been two freaking road maps drawn for them. Oh wait, I forgot the woman caddy Jesus that was good, must have spent all day working that one out.
But let’s move out of satire and subtext and move on to basic plotting. The film simply doesn’t make a lick of sense. It is explained that the women are not robots but instead have had behavior modifying computer chips stuck in their heads. This is all well and good but the thing is there are several dozen scenes where the wives can be robots and nothing else. Such as oh I don’t know, the scene where Nicole Kidman confronts HER ROBOT DOUBLE. Then to top it all off they go and give it a feel good ending. Allow me to repeat that. They.....gave.....The......Stepford.....Wives........ a....... happy...... ending.
I don’t think I can fathom a film that needs a happy ending less than The Stepford Wives. It shows clear signs of filmmaking by committee and is a textbook case of the dangers in that practice.
The actors are simply stranded. Nicole Kidman is lost as Johanna not able to grasp either the cold hard bitch she is in the beginning or the damaged woman in the rest of the movie, and look it’s nice to see Broderick in a leading role again, but the man has shit to do. Christopher Walken for a change of pace acts strange and made me long for the days that seeing him meant it was time to shit your pants, not time to break out the seltzer bottle. Glenn Close tries to act like Christopher Walken, which is truly a frightening thing to see. Bette Midler is well, Bette Midler, to the delight of fat middle aged women all over the world and Jon Lovitz, well he’s John Lovitz to the delight of absolutely no one.
So, in short this movie is madly truly deeply awful. The Stepford Wives should be about the Stepford Wives, instead it seems to have been made by them.