The Stepford Wives, '04 Version, or: Notes on a Scandal
I'm gonna keep this short, since Shroom already said
much of what I feel about this film (except less so). First, let me start with a story: I did not plan to see this film (at least, not until it went to video). But on July 4th, my family decided to go to the movies. I ws game to go; however, having consumed a large dinner (topped off with roughly half a bottle of decent red wine), I didn't particularly care what we saw. So we're in front of the box office and we don't know what we're here to see. Ideas were swapped, opinions were offered ("Spider-Man 2", to my chagrin, was ruled out early), and we eventually arrived at "The Notebook". Until one member of our party chirped, "Well, why don't we just wait another ten minutes and see 'The Stepford Wives'?"
Cut to two hours later, where I am actually muttering the words "We should have just fuckin' seen 'The Notebook'." This is a sentence I never ever in a million years thought I would find myself uttering. So you can probably understand the depth of my dislike for "The Stepford Wives". If not, allow me to explain:
I fuckin' hated it. Hated it beyond all reason. Despised the existence of an industry -- nay, a world -- where a misbegotten piece of crud like this could overcome the hundreds of obstacles present in the creation of a feature film and even survive dismal test screenings to pollute our multiplexes. I hate this film so much that I can barely collate my thoughts on it. So here, for your amusement, is a series of undigested, self-indulgent gripes, bitches and other such comments.
*Two minutes in and I already feel like I'm in for a cinematic Cleveland steamer: Nicole Kidman opens the film by reading off a TelePrompter in such a overdone, artificial manner that I was begging for Mike White to shoot her.
*Toothless parodies of reality television. Oh great. You know, I can get "Mad TV" for free, thanks anyways Mr. Rudnick.
*Oh yeah... and Mike White? He can go jump in a lake. Aside from "School of Rock" (his most atypical project), I've never liked anything he's been involved with. Bad Sign #3.
*Paul Rudnick was a pretty funny guy until he started working with Bette Midler.
*And what the hell happened to Frank Oz? He was once really good at this kind of camp-grotesque pastiche. (Remember Steve Martin and Bill Murray in "Little Shop of Horrors"? That was awesome.)
*One small detail I liked: All the Stepford husbands drive midlife-crisis dream cars. I think the main reason I enjoyed this was that it was throwaway business and the film didn't grind it into the dirt.
*Imagine how people would have reacted to the character of Roger Bannister if Mel Gibson had written this movie.
*Glenn Close is such an intense actress that it's nigh well unbearable when she tries to go over-the-top. She's more irritating here than she was in "Cookie's Fortune".
*I'm not going to go over the massive plot hole (everyone else has covered that ground), but when I pony up my hard-earned cash I expect to see a film that at least understands its own fucking premise.
*"Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law" is playing on a TV in the background during one scene. That's the closest this film gets to big laughs.
*Nicole Kidman is REALLY awful in this movie. I can't recall the last big-budget Hollywood extravaganza that was saddled with such a terrible lead performance. And from a woman whom I thought I would enjoy in anything, too.
*Full confession: I laughed out loud at the line about nobody noticing robots in Connecticut. But then, it's probably because I live here and know how true that is.
*I've never seen anyone botch the mock-50s-educational-film before. That's a surefire laugh-getter. Here, it's possibly the least funny thing on display. Have I mentioned that I hate this film?
*Please, please, please don't let Christopher Walken turn into Marlon Brando, walking through films relying on his famed mannerisms in order to cash an easy paycheck.
*Thought running through my head twenty minutes on: I wonder if I can sneak into "White Chicks"...
*The trailer for "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie" is possibly the funniest thing I'll see all summer. I love it.
*What of the film's take on feminism and women with ambition, anyway? The film can't really be telling us that Joanna deserves her humiliation and near-murder because she made the mistake of being incredibly successful... can it? (And before someone brings up the ludicrously exploitative shows she makes as a justification, shouldn't that also mean that the creators of "Temptation Island" and "Fear Factor" deserve to be shot? Wait. Don't answer that.)
*There comes a point in some films where you get the feeling that nobody gave a shit about the end result, that the production was too big a pain in the ass for anyone to be bothered with putting in a full effort. This may be one of the few films that is constructed entirely out of moments like that.
*Let's at least try
to hide the reshooting scars, shall we?
*Matthew Broderick is possibly the most colorless actor of my generation.
*And on a final note: Credits roll, finally, at 12:05 AM. That's right, I stayed up past midnight to endure this travesty. If that isn't a testament to my stupidity...