The Stepford Wives


Directed by: Frank Oz
Written by:Paul Rudnick
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken
Released: July 15, 2004
Grade: C+

Since the turn of the century, our own Nicole Kidman has dazzled us in Moulin Rouge, The Others, The Hours, Dogville and Cold Mountain.   Sadly though, The Stepford Wives will prove to be a rare blot on the otherwise impressive resume.

Joanna Eberhard (Kidman) was once a high-flying, well-paid television executive.  That was until she was fired after a few controversial television show ideas.  Looking to escape the big city, Joanna and her husband Walter (Broderick) have moved to the easy living town of Stepford to start a whole new life.

It’s a beautiful town filled with beautiful people but for Joanna, something isn’t quite right about Stepford.  The wives are all meticulously dressed and serve their husbands with unbridled devotion.  There are never any arguments and no wife seems bothered by the fact her husband spends much time hanging out with the other guys at a secret clubhouse.

Now for a major spoiler alert.  If you haven’t seen the film and plan on doing so, please read no further.  What follows this introduction is one of the biggest plot flaws of the year and I am flabbergasted to see it escape the cutting room floor.  It turns out, that the women of Stepford are robots.  In one scene, we see Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman descend into a room where she herself will have her brain/memories implanted into a Kidman look-alike robot.

Here’s where we have problems.  Firstly, where does the real Kidman go if she is turned into a robot?  Secondly, once the plan is “foiled”, how come the women at the party transform back into themselves when the computers in the control room are smashed?  Are they robots or are they humans with mind controlling chips in their brains?  The film seems to tell us both which is complete nonsense.

It’s a solid cast with Bette Midler, Glenn Close and Christopher Walken working along side Kidman and Broderick.  We don’t see Midler on screen very often and I enjoyed the scenes she shared with Kidman.  They help build the film’s intrigue in the early stages but as the plot plans out, you realise there’s not a lot to it at all.  It’s a very basic story which doesn’t seem to tell us anything.

According to the Internet Movie Database, many scenes were re-shot and subplots were changed following poor test screenings.  From my own opinions of the final product, I don’t think the changes made much of a difference.