The Renegade Rip

‘Stepford Wives’ a step above the rest

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Supported by a star-studded cast, the remake of “The Stepford Wives” breaks the mold of its 1975 version, complete with new twists and fresh faces.

Nicole Kidman stars as Joanna, president of a very feminist television station. After an aggressive firing, Joanna suffers a breakdown. Her husband Walter (brought to life with the skilled acting of Matthew Broderick) decides a change is necessary, and moves the family to Stepford, Conn.

They find quintessential American suburbia: All of the women are blond, vibrant and, of course, drive SUVs. As the movie progresses, not only do the children fade into the background, but the lack of sanity in the Stepford wives also disappears.

Glenn Close and Christopher Walken provide the movie with much of its humor and fun, playing the highest profile couple in Stepford, the Wellingtons. Walken sometimes loses his creepiness in his comedic nature, but still gives a brilliant performance. Some of his scenes are similar to bits he has done on “Saturday Night Live.” Close also breathes new life into the remake, leading the wives of Stepford in their frivolous activities. Her eccentricity even outstrips her fine role as Cruella DeVil in the “101 Dalmatians” films.

As a dominant woman with a stable husband, Kidman and Broderick engage in a surprisingly believable relationship throughout the movie. There are moments in the film when one actually forgets Kidman’s marital past with Tom Cruise and truly wonders why Walter would let his wife keep that hideous brunette bob haircut.

But the movie does prove to be above all the blond hair and makeup, as women’s roles in society change incessantly and seldom bore the audience. Without giving away the ending, it’s safe to say it is unpredictable and makes the movie worthy of being a remake equal to its predecessor.

Faith Hill, who makes her acting debut, is another pleasant surprise in the film. In one scene her acting talents are displayed when she, as a robot, accidentally malfunctions while dancing and sparks fly from her head. Kidman’s character becomes suspicious and thus the plot thickens.

While the movie is not terribly frightening, it mixes laughter with disturbing possibilities. There are scenes not fit for children, and there are also scenes to make grown men cringe (most of these contain witty remarks from the self-righteous Bette Middler, playing an extreme feminist and author.)

Kidman succeeds in provoking thought in the minds of viewers. The box office is sure to gain from this well acted and cleverly written movie.

“Oh snap!” implied an audience member.

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‘Stepford Wives’ a step above the rest