Stepford Wives

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken, Bette Midler, Roger Bart

Director: Frank Oz

Many people will know about the original 1975 version of THE STEPFORD WIVES which starred Katharine Ross. It was a highly original and respected movie and I have to say that when I first heard that a remake was on the way I was extremely dubious. This doubt almost turned to horror and certainly astonishment when it was revealed it was to become a comedy!

By the time of the preview however I had decided to be fair and give the remake a chance and I hopefully went in with an open mind and I strongly suggest anyone thinking of going to see the remake adopts the same attitude because the 2004 STEPFORD WIVES is a first class film in its own right.

The story, in case you don’t already know, revolves around a husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) and wife Joanna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children giving up life in the big city and moving out to a small town called Stepford where everything seems perfect. Joanna and Walter are having problems in their marriage and their lives generally and they hope that the change of pace might do their relationship good. After all everyone in Stepford seems so happy.

But it soon becomes apparent that the wives of Stepford are only concerned about pleasing their men and good housekeeping is their only personal interest. Then there’s the mysterious men’s club and only the husbands know what goes on behind its secretive walls.

This new version of THE STEPFORD WIVES for the most part sticks very closely to the original story. Even the pace of the film is the same with only minor details changed and updated to reflect the present day. But where the original took itself fairly seriously as a sci-fi / horror, the remake injects humour, mainly in the form of social comment, putting the new film in the genre of sci-fi / comedy. To enjoy the movie you simply need to view it as a brand new film but with the same storyline as the old one. Then the new STEPFORD WIVES will thoroughly entertain you. In fact the film almost never goes off course except unfortunately towards the end where a new conclusion is added giving a new ending. This last part seems a complete change of pace almost as if it’s been cut from a different movie as it attempts to tie up loose ends and return the town of Stepford to a normal existence.

The 1975 film spawned two made for TV movie sequels, neither of which I have bothered to watch as I had only heard bad reports on them. This new movie completely ties up the ending leaving no open doors but perhaps ironically becomes a victim of Stepford itself as its tagged on ending caters only to give a comforting happy finish to a movie whose original story is otherwise followed so well.

Good movie – shame about the ending. An almost ‘perfect’ score of 5 out of 6 stars

5 out of 6 stars