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Movie Review: Stepford Wives

Alternate Title: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Story: This unnecessary remake of the classic 1975 film (from Ira Levin's 1972 novel) has a few good things going for it but sadly it misses the mark on many levels. It does bring our current identity theft problem onto the big screen (unintentionally, I am sure) and there are some funny lines by writer Paul Rudnick. The costumes are great and the set detail is right on the money but everything else stinks. Director Frank Oz did not seem to have a handle on a direction. Is it a comedy, satire or thriller? It never takes a firm road and we end up caring about no one.

In case you live on the moon, the town of Stepford, CT is the perfect place to live. The husbands are catered to by their perfect stay at home robotic wives. But there is something rotten going on for sure and the new residents can spot the weirdness immediately. The original, filmed 30 years ago at the cusp of female liberation, was perfect for the changing times. Stepford has even become a verb over time.

This film is sadly dated. They tried to update the script by adding a Jewish couple, a gay couple and some contemporary jokes. But woe is me, the whole thing was a very bad idea. It is empty and dead on delivery

Acting: Bette Midler is always good when she plays herself. Christopher Walken seemed to be having the most fun as the male leader of Stepford. Glenne Close reminded of the Wicked Witch of the West. Nicole Kidman was miscast and Matthew Broderick (who will always be Ferris Bueller to me) has that doe caught in the headlights look throughout the film. He was squirmy to watch.

Predilection: I like writer Paul Rudnick and I am a Bette Midler fan.

Critters: One Stepford dog.

Food: There were lots of scenes of perfect kitchens with gorgeous displays of food but only one cupcake was partially eaten.

Visual Art: Some really bad portraits.

Blatant Product Placement: Oh my, where to begin? Apple computer, Mercedes, Hummer, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Xanax, Versace, Dolce Gabbana, Hellman's Mayonnaise, Brooks Brothers and many, many more.

Soundtrack: Annoying - as was much of the film.

Opening Titles: I was hopeful from the opening title sequence because there was a fun and bouncy montage of old dream kitchen ads and commercials from the 50's and 60's.

Theater Audience: A smattering of early Sunday morning filmgoers and the four of us. The New York, gay and Jewish jokes got the most laughs from this crowd.

Soapbox: I am incensed when film makers bow to the whims of 'preview' audiences and change the endings of films. Apparently the preview audiences wanted a happy ending and the money grubbing producers succumbed to the wishes of the masses and ended up with one of the worst endings ever seen on the big screen. Would a writer change the ending of a book to please the masses? Would a painter change his/her palette to go with the color du jour? Grr!

Predictability Level: I had seen the original and read the book so I was not expecting the AWFUL ending that they tacked onto this film.

Tissue Usage: Ha!

Oscar Worthy: NO!

Nit Picking: Bad casting, bad acting and bad ending.

Big Screen or Rental: How about renting the original 1975 film? Or for some other Frank Oz films how about: Bowfinger, In and Out, What About Bob? Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Little Shop of Horrors.

Length: Thankfully under two hours.