The Stepford Wives (3/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken, Tony Award winners Matthew Broderick, Roger Bart, and Glenn Close, Grammy winners Bette Midler and Faith Hill; who could ask for a better cast? Certainly not Director Frank Oz and screenwriter Paul Rudnick. But what did they do with it? They took an almost 30 year old film, 1975ís The Stepford Wives, converted it into something thatís not funny enough to be a comedy, not scary enough to be a thriller, and not biting enough to be a satire. The result is a tired, uninvolving bore.

Joanna Eberhart (Kidman) is fired from her job as president of a TV network and goes into a funk. Her husband Walter (Broderick) quits his job as a V.P. in protest and they move to Stepford, Connecticut where all the women are pleasant and all the men are satisfied. Clearly, somethingís wrong.

Whatís wrong is that the script stinks. Bart is a token gay who is in the film for no discernable reason. Heís not funny; he has no purpose except to be gay (his character was not in Ira Levinís book or the 1975 movie). Midlerís character is equally puzzling. Sheís supposed to be a free thinker who gets stuck in the Stepford way, but, like Bart, sheís not funny or anything else.

Trying to figure out what this movie is trying to say is a paradox. Maybe itís a leftwing attack on loving wives. Maybe itís a biting satire on the difference between people who live in New York and people who live in Connecticut. Maybe, oh, who cares? Whatever they were trying to say, they did it in a clumsy and boring manner.

The only person who distinguishes herself is Kidman, who takes this weak material and makes the best of it. Broderick looks like heís lost, like heís constantly asking himself, ďWhat am I doing here?Ē

Thatís the same question I was asking myself.

June 12, 2004

The End