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"Fans of Jon Lovitz will also be let down, believe it or not."




The Stepford Wives
The Masked Reviewer

The Masked Reviewer will begin by admitting that the Masked Reviewer has never seen the original 1975 version of 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 wrestling movie).

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 together. 

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'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 theater, though. 


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.



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