Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Stepford Wives

Wow, what a great movie! Even though this film is very well known (which is definitely contrast to the general definition of a cult classic. But this movie has without a doubt gathered a huge cult status and has been recently remade as a comedy starring Nicole Kidman, Mathew Broderick and Bette Midler. The original is far superior to it's remake in both style, creativity, suspense and depth of character. A growing family is tired of the city (and all the craziness that comes with it) and decides to move to the cleaner suburban outskirts of the city to raise their children in a more wholesome environment. They choose Stepford, a town that from the start seems a little off kilter. For one thing, all the housewives are extremely vapid, caring only about cooking, cleaning and tending to their husbands every need with the utmost enthusiasm. When they talk, they sound like living TV commercials (If Shiny Clean Dishwasher soap were to ask me to do a commercial for them, not only would I do it, but I'd do it for free.) Despite it's oddities, this new couple manages to cope. The kids are doing well in school, making friends. The husband joins the Stepford Men's Association. Only Joanna the wife is not content, believing that something is odd, but just can't identify it. Fortunately for Joanna, another couple have recently moved to Stepford. The two wives (Joanna and Bobbie) instantly bond and very much agree that Stepford is just plain weird. It's TOO clean, everyone's TOO friendly and the wives are sexy and gorgeous, yet they fawn over overweight ugly old men (their husbands). Because all the men in town belong to the "Husbands Only" lodge they try to organize a womens club. Only one other woman in town is interested, a wife that has only been in Stepford for a few months, named Charmaine. Anyway, after returning from a "trip" with her husband, Charmaine is now acting like all the other wives in Stepford. Cooking, cleaning, and wearing flowery aprons while dusting the house in heels (totally Donna Reed style). This is a tremendous contrast from the independent, free thinking woman she was before who needed a recipe just to make ice. Joanna and Bobbie find this incredibly disturbing and can't understand how these transformations could possibly be taking place. Then soon after, Bobbie asks Joanna to babysit her kids while her and her husband go on "second honeymoon". When she comes back, she's wearing beautiful makeup, her kitchen is so clean it's sanitized and she is all of a sudden madly devoted to her husband. Joanna freaks and stabs Bobbie in the stomach. Bobbie pulls out the clean, non blood stained knife and proceeds to go haywire like a short circuited robot, opening and closing cabinets, dumping cup after cup of coffee on the floor, repeating things like "How could you do a thing like that", "When I was just going to give you coffee", "I thought we were friends". Noticing that it had been exactly six months after moving to Stepford that Charmaine changed and now Bobbie had been in town for exactly six months and has suddenly changed. Realizing that she has been in town for almost six months herself, Joanna becomes frantic. She seeks help from a psychiatrist who ends up being the only person that believes Joanna's story. The psychiatrist advises her to get out of town now... take the kids and run. But when Joanna returns, the children are nowhere to be found. She goes to the Mens Lodge to confront her husband and to get her kids. The only person she finds is the President of the Mens Association who basically tells her that she has no choice. She runs and hides in a room, but to her amazement the room looks just like her bedroom at home. There's even a replica of Joanna sitting at a vanity table brushing her hair. The replica has considerably larger boobs and has completely black eyes (the assumption is that she's not quite finished with her replication process). A shocked Joanna is strangled by the replica and the next thing you know, she's dressed all frilly and is obsessed with the grocery store. Oh, didn't I mention that one of the members of the Men's Association used to work at Disneyland... making robots.


Davelandweb said...

Although I didn't expect much from the remake, it was even worse than I thought. The original is truly chilling; how Joanna just gives up at the end. What a classic. Great blog!

Cultfiend said...

I was excited when they made the remake as a comedy, especially with such an all star cast. But you're right, what a disappointment! Full of nonsensical humor and loads of plot holes. I wanted to like the remake and so I bought the DVD, this just led me from disappointment to frustration, because of the outtakes included. In the original, Joanna stabs Bobbie and she goes haywire like a robot (very creepy scene) and in the remake, all she does is put her hand in a fire. I watched the outtakes and there's a cut scene where Joanna stabs Bobbie and Bobbie goes haywire like in the original, only it's done very comically. Bobbie has cleaning attachments for arms, a beer cooler in her chest, and can sprout wheels from her feet and mow the lawn. It was a hilarious scene, very comically mimicking the original. It's pretty obvious that a lot of time and work went into this scene (lots of expensive computer graphics) and it ended up on the cutting room floor and was replaced with just Bobbie putting her hand in the fire. This was the turning point in the original where we really get an idea of what's going on. Without this scene there is no turning point, at least not enough of one. Why they cut this scene out of the remake is a mystery.