Nicole Kidman as Joanna Eberhart
Bette Midler as Bobbi Markowitz
Matthew Broderick as Walter Kresby
Christopher Walken as Mike Wellington
Faith Hill as Sarah Sunderson
Glenn Close as Claire Wellington
Roger Bart as Roger Bannister
Jon Lovitz as Dave Markowitz
The Stepford Wives first appeared in theaters in 1975 as a dark and unnerving futuristic drama that spoke to the fears of a generation of women who were gaining equality. The 2004 remake has a much different feel, taking the story and turning it into a dark comedy. The underlying message is still there, just the way it is presented is changed.
The good thing is that the film works as a dark comedy. Nicole Kidman portrays Joanna Eberhart, an ultra-driven television network CEO, who has just been fired from her job and is in need of some serious relaxation. Matthew Broderick is her husband, Walter Kresby, who quit his job at the same network over how unfairly his wife had been treated. Walter decides the quiet little town of Stepford, Connecticut would be the perfect place to reconnect with each other. After arriving, they meet two other families new to Stepford and a large amount of cookie-cutter-perfect June Cleaver women. The town is filled with large houses, manicured lawns, and ideal wives from the 50’s.
Bette Midler and John Lovitz are great in their rolls as another pair of bickering newcomers to the small town. They provide a lot of humor and, surprisingly, are not over the top, keeping the movie funny without hijacking it. Christopher Walken and Glenn Close are perfect as the patriarch and matriarch of the town, while the rest of the cast does very well in support.
Technically the film does not have any problems. The editing is crisp, the effects are good, and the soundtrack does not interfere with the flow of the movie. Some of the end effects look dated, but that seems to be a stylistic decision to keep the retro feel of the film.
Who should see this movie? Fans of dark comedies will enjoy this one. The underlying plot, while sinister, does leave a lot of room for well placed humor. Action fans should look someplace else, but there is a small bit of romance in the movie for the people looking for that. If you want to think a little after the images are no longer on screen, there is plenty of material here for that. Overall, it is a fun and enjoyable movie. As a final note, it is not the same movie as the first one and the plot develops differently, so if you are only looking for an update you might be disappointed.