The Stepford Wives

 

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Glen Close, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken, Roger Bart

   

It is easiest to refer to The Stepford Wives as a Ďblack comedyí - but it is not really black, more like light grey. An amusing refit of the 1970ís film, the story is based around the life of high powered TV executive Joanna Eberhard (Kidman) when she burns out after being fired, convincing her husband,  Walter (Broderick) to move the family to the small Connecticut town of Stepford. On arriving, they are greeted by the overly friendly and enthusiastic Claire (Close), who helps them settle into their new mansion. As Joanna begins to suspect the residents of Stepford of being just too happy and conforming, she befriends other misfits Roger (Bart) and Bobby (Midler) and they together start to unravel the mystery of Stepford.

The only part of this film that lacks succinct comedy and drama is unfortunately the first 10 minutes. I donít know what the writers and producers were going for in that initial introduction to Joanna and her career, but whatever it was it didnít work. However, having hung on in hope of improvement, I was duly rewarded. As soon as the Eberhards are in Stepford, the film lifts off and carries on gaining momentum to a superb finale.

The skillful design of the characters, with witty dialogue and exceptional interaction, is the foremost merit of the film, allowing the bizarreness of the story to wash over the audience and be accepted. Roger Bart as Roger is perfect as the effeminate gay member of the female side of Stepford, plotting together with Joanna and Bobby to unlock the secrets of the menís association where Walter hangs out with the other men led by charismatic leader Mike (Walken). Some cracking humorous moments occur at Rogerís expense, but he is a loveable character you want to come out on top even more than Joanna. Kidman as usual makes an admirable job of a varied role, and works tremendously well with Bette Midler as Bobby. Overall though, the acting respect has to go to all the other women of Stepford and especially Glen Close as Claire. Such a wacky and entertaining story deserved to be remade and has been done so with finesse.

 

 
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