Tom Riis Farrell
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 its fair to say feminism isnt 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 womens 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. Its not a belly-quaker by any stretch of the imagination, but it cant 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 doesnt take our Jo long to smell a big fat rat.
Its all fairly forgettable stuff but, with the exception of the out-of-place final 20 minutes, its an amusing enough way to pass the time. Its also the first thing Kidmans done in years that hasnt 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 youll ever clap eyes on.
It Needs: A finale that doesnt look like its 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
Its safe to say nobody will remember this version twenty years down the line but its a reasonable enough distraction while its on.