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The Stepford Wives (2004)

Make one.

Directed by:

Frank Oz

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 93 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Country: United States

Whichever way you look at it, ‘The Stepford Wives’ seems a strange choice of film to remake. After all, the 1975 original was very much a film of its time, tapping into the war of the sexes and presenting us with a memorable slice of satire in the process. But skip forward twenty years or so to the present day and it’s fair to say feminism isn’t exactly the hottest of topics.

So what social relevance is there in 2004 for a film about a community of men who robotically enhance their women-folk to bake cakes by day and partake in scintillating bedroom acrobatics by night? The answer, as it happens, is none – which creates the conundrum of what direction to take this production in so that viewers will actually give a women’s lib.

Out the window, then, goes insightful social commentary, and in its place comes out-and-out comedy. Writer Paul Rudnick (‘Addams Family Values’ and ‘In & Out’ are among the more noteworthy bullet-points on his CV) and director Frank Oz present us with a film that says nothing and means nothing, but in all fairness just about achieves its aim, which is to make us laugh. It’s not a belly-quaker by any stretch of the imagination, but it can’t be denied that it has its fair-share of nice one-liners and witty observations.

The cast, meanwhile, is headed by Nicole Kidman. She plays Joanna Eberhard, the high-flying TV exec who ends up on the dole queue after taking one of her infamous reality shows a mite too far. So hubby Walter (Matthew Broderick) decides its time for the whole fam to pack their bags and move to the idyllic suburban town of Stepford – where the homes are perfect and the women are even better. Of course, it doesn’t take our Jo long to smell a big fat rat.

It’s all fairly forgettable stuff but, with the exception of the out-of-place final 20 minutes, it’s an amusing enough way to pass the time. It’s also the first thing Kidman’s done in years that hasn’t been set exclusively up its own arse, and for that reason alone is actually a little refreshing.

It's Got: Pastel dresses, caked-on make-up, and the most prettiest ATM machine you’ll ever clap eyes on.

It Needs: A finale that doesn’t look like it’s been hurriedly stuck on after the dismal failure of audience test screenings (which, in actual fact, it was).

Alternatives:

The First Wives Club, The Stepford Wives (1975), To Die For

Summary

It’s safe to say nobody will remember this version twenty years down the line – but it’s a reasonable enough distraction while it’s on.

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