The Stepford Wives

REVIEW – THE STEPFORD WIVES

This movie was always going to be a little bit peculiar – Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken’s names rarely grace the same bill, let alone the same page. And while I wasn’t alive when the original movie was released, I’m pretty sure that you weren’t supposed to know they were robots – unlike now, it’s assumed most people are in on the secret. In any case, it gets revealed pretty early on.

Nicole Kidman stars as a high-powered television executive responsible for bringing to fruition a number of ridiculously over the top, female-biased reality shows. When a disgruntled contestant (male, of course) attempts to assassinate her, she’s fired and suffers a nervous breakdown. Hence the move to Stepford, where it is hoped that her husband (Matthew Broderick) and two kisd, and herself, will be able to rebuild some semblance of a normal family life.

Stepford is an impossibly beautiful and rich town populated by immaculate women and their geeky husbands. Nicole (sorry, I forget her character’s name) is spooked and teams up with a gay guy and a female writer who is far from the Stepford ideal, i.e. not tall and beautiful. They eventually discover the secret of Stepford (OMG, they’re all robots!!11!1!one!) and hijinks ensue.

In fact, hijinks ensue for the entire first half of the movie, which is done perfectly and is totally hilarious. Christopher Walken plays his usual creepy yet somehow friendly character excellently, and seeing Matthew Broderick slowly being accepted into the husband’s club is always fun. The addition of the gay guy is a great idea and makes his eventual transformation all the more amusing.

Shortly after the middle of the movie, it begins stuttering and running around in circles. Eventually it runs out of steam and ends in an abrupt, unsatisfying and nonsensical conclusion (just like, in fact, the robot that malfunctions at the start of the movie). This is an awful shame, given the first half.

Watching The Stepford Wives, you get the feeling that the writers had a huge number of great ideas for the concept and threw them all in the first half, where they belonged. Having done all the good and obvious jokes riffing on the whole ‘wives as robots’ shtick, they evidently had no idea how to shape them into a coherent plot and reach a satisfying conclusion – so they just copped out and sprinted to the end as fast as possible. So, it’s worth renting on DVD if there isn’t anything better around (such as Mean Girls).

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