Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken
Ira Levin, Paul Rudnick
There is a type of role in which I have never accepted Matthew Broderick. "Stepford Wives" would be that kind of role.
First off, I do believe there are certain films that simply don't need to be remade. They are either so unique...or so dated...or so irrelevant that they simply are not calling out for a remake. I could name a few examples such as "Planet of the Apes" (what was Tim Burton thinking?), "Psycho," and this film among many of them. "Stepford Wives" was a "money" picture for Nicole Kidman and a film she openly acknowledges was a bad choice on her part.
I also have to acknowledge that while I got a certain amount of enjoyment out of the original film, I wouldn't count myself as a huge fan. It was entertaining, but nothing I consider special. However, it blows this film away.
The 2004 version of "The Stepford Wives" is trying to come off as a dark comedy, but mostly comes off as a futile exercise in filmmaking.
The aforementioned stars, Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman, are completely unbelievable as a couple AND even worse when they are trying to convince us they are loving and loyal. Fluff, simply fluff. Kidman, who can be so incredible and completely immerses herself in a role, is simply challenged here to find anything to work with...there simply is no wonderful dialogue and no chemistry with her co-star.
The rest of the cast ranges from godawful to functional including Jon Lovitz (godawful), Glenn Close (histrionic), Christopher Walken (functional) and Bette Midler (functional). The film also includes country singer Faith Hill, but it's a mostly throwaway role unlike the wonderful debut of hubby Tim McGraw in this year's "Friday Night Lights."
The script is ridiculous, the camera work nothing special and the attempts at "dark humor" miss the mark. Muppet Master Frank Oz's direction style is simply not adequate in updating this classic film.
Is this a bad film? No, not really. It feels mostly like a merely functional film that misses the opportunity to be something special. It desperately needed a better male co-star with Kidman and a re-working of the script. "The Stepford Wives" is not a failure, but is a definite disappointment.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic