Stepford Wives, The
As a loosely based remake to the 1975 creep show of the same name, about a town full of way too perfect suburban wives and their way too happy husbands, The Stepford Wives is definitely riddled with glaring plot holes and implausibilities. But its also a real hoot.
The tagline reads, ''The wives of Stepford have a secret,'' and boy, do they ever. Of course, Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman), a former tough-as-nails television network presidenreal'' television. Honestly, the Oscar-winning actress can do just about anything--but it may be time for her to take a vacation. As Joanna's husband, Broderick is spot-on as the mousy Walter who eventually shows some backbone (of course he does). Close and Walken also have their roles down, er, perfectly as the masterminds of their own little version of heaven. But the real standouts are Midler, as the caustic Bobbie, and Broadway actor Bart as Roger, who provokes the biggest laughs from the audience with his flare for the flamboyant. Yes, it may be a tad stereotypical, but he sells it, girlfriend. Even country singer Faith Hill tries her hand at the whole acting thing, making an appearance as one of the Stepford wives--come on, she certainly looks the part, doesn't she?
Trouble brewed on The Stepford Wives set. Director Frank Oz (In & Out) apparently had difficulties with producers over the direction of the film (which veers completely away from the suspenseful original) as well as run-ins with co-stars Midler and Walken--and the end product reflects it. Stepford is muddled and savvy moviegoers will no doubt scrutinize the film's glaring flaws, especially the whole ''robot'' component (are they actual robots or what?) and the over-the-top, maybe-you'll-guess-it twist at the end. But Stepford's intentional ribbing of social mores and quest for perfection comes shining through, thanks to Paul Rudnick's campy script. There are more than a few hysterical scenes, including one where Joanna, Bobbie and Roger sneak into one of the Stepford houses, and after hearing a particularly vigorous lovemaking session between perfect wife #34 and her husband, Roger runs up the stairs because he's ''got to get some of that'' or the scene where Claire talks about the great things to make at Christmas, while Bobbie throws out her own clever ideas on what to do with pine cones. The important thing is Stepford Wives doesn't take itself seriously--well, not really--and neither should anyone else.
The Stepford Wives may not be as perfect as Stepford's manufactured denizens but, supported by a fabulous cast, it produces some genuine belly laughs just the same.