> Volume 6 > Number 24


Frank Oz

Nicole Kidman
Matthew Broderick
Bette Midler
Glenn Close
Christopher Walken
Roger Bart

Release: 11 Jun. 04

The Stepford Wives


More likely to cause audience members to scratch their heads in confusion than to really make a mark on any form of social, political, or artistic statement, The Stepford Wives remake clashes amid its pastel home decorations with plot holes the size of Boston’s Big Dig. Here’s a film that creates the façade of one reality, establishing the existence of a plot by the men of Stepford, Connecticut, to make the perfect housewives out of their spouses (including one gay man), and then throws everything to the wind at the end likely because it made the film’s climactic scene shorter. This is a film in which no one could have read the script after writing it or watched the film after making it -- the story’s continuity would be easy to comment on if it were existent.

Perhaps the greatest shock of The Stepford Wives is its ability to completely destroy the feminist intentions of its precursor, a minor but still respectable thriller. But under the direction of Frank Oz, the reflection on the artifice of a home life and the domination of a patriarchal society becomes simple, thinly veiled acceptance of women’s need for a man, even if he’s as scrawny of Matthew Broderick. Again Stepford comes off as a horrifying existence in which women are only available for a clean home and a passionate sex life, but that’s not quite the full effect here -- these women are retrograde propaganda for a 1950s lifestyle that never quite existed as seamlessly as on The Donna Reed Show. While that series was still enjoyable as minor entertainment for the entire family, it wasn’t a veiled attempt to make Third Generation feminists into willing acceptors of the status decried in the First Generation

©2004, David Perry,, 11 June 2004