The Masked Reviewer will begin by
admitting that the Masked Reviewer has never seen the original 1975
The Stepford Wives. Apparently, it's a classic of sorts.
The Masked Reviewer also never read the book. But...he is not
alone. Therefore, he can give an unbiased review of the re-make.
The Masked Reviewer is aware of the effect that The Stepford Wives
had on pop culture. The Masked Reviewer has even used the phrase "Stepford
wife" to describe someone who embodies the 50's stereotypical housewife:
polite, quiet, domestic, and traditional. Donna Reed.
"Perfect" to any red-blood chauvinist pig.
The film stars Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick. They aren't
the pairing you might expect for...well...anything. And, that's
probably because they could hardly have had less chemistry
together. I had more chemistry in 10th grade, though not by much.
Matthew Broderick plays a role that he seems to always play...kind of
charming, slightly dorky, good hearted guy. It seems like his
characters should always say "Aw, shucks," at least once in every film
he does, but they often do not. He's not bad, but he doesn't add
anything to the movie. Nicole Kidman is good at times, but not
great. She has a role that allows her to go over the top but she
doesn't often choose to go there (unlike Sylvester Stallone in that arm
Bette Midler and Roger Bart provide comedic support. Bette
Midler plays the part she often plays, as an assertive, loud, New York
independent woman. Roger Bart plays a role he will often be
playing after this film, as a stereotypical flamboyant gay man.
Yes, that's right, there's a gay man in The Stepford Wives this
time around. It's enlightened! He's the Stepford Life
Partner. Why not?
There's a little bit of back and forth between Roger Bart, Bette
Midler, and Nicole Kidman, but much like everyone else in the film, it
seems like individuals punching a time clock. No one seems to have
a lot of fun with their part. They certainly don't seem to play
off each other very much. One might think that each actor was shot
alone in front of a green screen, then digitally brought together.
Glenn Close and Christopher Walken also star. Here's a bad
sign: Christopher Walken wasn't nutty enough. What? Huh?
How can that be? Sure, he had a bit of that Walken magic going for
him, but he was woefully underused. Glenn Close was good, but also
not used enough. She's getting better and better and nutty
performances, and the pairing of Glenn Close and Christopher Walken
should have been great...but they hardly had any time on screen
Here's another bad sign: Jon Lovitz was in the film. Oh, now,
all you Jon Lovitz fans should just simmer down (all four of you).
He's not a bad guy, just a bad actor and bad comedian.
Okay, even he has some good moments (especially as a voice actor), but
he's another guy that gives the same performance in every movie he's in.
Muppet Master Frank Oz directed the film. It's not his
best work. The problem is that he couldn't seem to find a
direction: it's a campy re-make of a sci-fi suspense film. He
doesn't go far enough to make the suspense into anything that's even
remotely suspenseful (it's hard to imagine anyone not figuring out
what's going on very quickly), and the campiness isn't done enough to be
effective. Remember The Brady Bunch Movie? That was
campy and didn't let up. This makes fun of itself then backs away.
It never becomes a parody, but feels like it wants to.
Frank Oz does manage to put in a few interesting surprises toward the
end, and he does squeeze out a few good laughs. This is despite
the horrible writing, though, which spends more time making fun of the
differences between big city sophistication and urban vanilla
homogeneity than it does making fun of chauvinist ideals.
Also, anyone who has seen a preview or trailer for the film will have
seen most of what the film offers. There's a whole lot of nothing
going on. It's like a short story that was expanded too far...it's
one idea, strung out.
It's not horrible, thanks to a few laughs but way too few.
People who expect to like Matthew Broderick or Nicole Kidman or
Christopher Walken or Glenn Close or Bette Midler in this will almost
certainly be let down. Fans of Jon Lovitz will also be let
down, believe it or not. It's sub par, to be sure, but it
does have a few good moments. Not enough to sit through it in a
Expectation from the Title: Something about some married women
from a place.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Nicole Kidman looks lovely and it's nice to see so many women acting
with good manners and enjoying their housework.
The Pros: A few interesting twists, a couple of funny moments.
The Cons: Not nearly enough funny. No good chemistry
between actors. Predictable for the most part, seems to drag on.