Review – The Stepford Wives (2004)

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the-stepford-wives-55db0fa16194aWelcome to Mind Control Month | Sci-Fi/Fantasy Week – Day 5. Well, it is the final day for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Week for Mind Control Month. Next week, we’ll be continuing our Mind Control Month in a different way, with demonic possession – that’s a form of controlling one’s mind, right? For the last film of Sci-Fi/Fantasy week, we’re looking at The Stepford Wive, the remake. Forewarning, I’ve never seen the original film. I know, I know, I should. Especially after seeing this film again, but we’ll get into that in a little bit. Let’s first talk about the plot.

Joanna Eberhart, a wildly successful president of a TV Network, after a series of shocking events, suffers a nervous breakdown and is moved by her milquetoast of a husband, Walter, from Manhattan to the chic, upper-class, and very modern planned community of Stepford, Connecticut. Once there, she makes good friends with the acerbic Bobbie Markowitz, a Jewish writer who’s also a recovering alcoholic. Together they find out, much to their growing stupor and-then horror, that all the housewives in town are strangely blissful and, somehow… doomed. What is going on behind the closed doors of the Stepford Men’s Association and the Stepford Day Spa? Why is everything perfect here? Will it be too late for Joanna and Bobbie when they finally find out? – IMDb

So, one thing seemed evident to me while watching the film. There’s too much comedy. While looking up the original film, I saw that it was what it probably should’ve been all along, a serious horror mystery film. While the comedy in this film was silly enough to warrant a laugh out of me at times, there were other times where it came off as over-the-top in the worst possible way. The concept of the film is a good one if done right. Like many of the body snatcher films, the most important part of the film is issuing the idea that this could happen in real life, and what it means on a deeper level. Originally, I could see a meaningful message about expectations and the negative connotation found with womanizing.

The potential found in the film was pretty decent, but it just didn’t follow that route. Then again, that’s just first impressions talking, so how did the rest of the movie do? Let’s go ahead and break down The Stepford Wives to interpret the stars.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 5/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 0

Starting off, we don’t have the best score for the people category. Nothing here really impressed, even though it was probably trying to. The acting never really changes from beginning to end, so there’s never a real range – or demand for a range of anyone. The characters are all mostly interchangeable as far as memorable goes – I just didn’t care about anyone, including the leads. Casting? I don’t know. I’m always okay with Christopher Walken showing up, but because everyone was interchangeable, I really didn’t care about the casting in general. I will say that everyone seemed to have a decent enough role in the film to be deemed important, so there is that. That being said, there wasn’t enough chemistry – and that mostly had to do with the comedic influence in the film, unfortunately.

WRITING SCORE – 6/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 1|Story – 1|Originality – 1|Interesting – 2

Next up, the writing category. We also have something unimpressive here. The dialogue will pass through both ears as if it never happened, a little too much happens in this film to really be considered ultimately balanced. I think it should’ve stuck to its guns and remained simple in order to be balanced. The story itself had plenty of potentials but is never attempted. Originality, again, it could’ve been something special, but they remained in a typical territory, thus reminding you of a dozen other titles. All that considered, I still think the concept is interesting enough to watch.

BTS SCORE – 5/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 1|Music – 1

This film is clearly dressed to unimpress, as each category is only receiving half points. The visuals in this film are exactly what you’d expect and never tries once to visually impress its audience. The directing and editing also seem pretty cheap and overlooked, as neither really had a single challenge to overcome in their duties. As far as advertisements go, I feel as if the audience is expecting a different movie than what they receive, so half points there. Finally, the music is just as typical. At this point, I’m really starting to wonder where all that $90 million of the budget went, because so far, I haven’t seen anything that would warrant such a budget.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 1|Obstacles – 1|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2

At least, we have the narrative arc category, which is the easiest to score points in. That being said, there were still some strange things lacking in the category for The Stepford Wives. Let’s investigate. The introduction was fine, as it introduced us to our main characters and why they ultimately go to Stepford, Connecticut. The inciting incident is a little wonky, though. First, I thought it was the nervous breakdown that she has that leads to them moving to Stepford. Then, I thought it was when they first started noticing the strange behavior of everyone. It could be either of them, but the fact of the matter was, it wasn’t clear, so half points there. As for the obstacles, there aren’t very many distinct obstacles. There’s one main obstacle that sort of is re-visited – like a mystery, but I don’t really feel like much is learned from it, so it gets annoying. Half points there. The climax is pretty decent and there is a falling action and returning to a new norm of sorts, so there is that.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 3/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 0

Is this an entertaining film? I guess it depends on who you ask. Ten years ago, I might not have known any better and said sure, but when you break it down, it really isn’t entertaining. Would I rewatch it? I’m sure I would, as this was a rewatch in itself, but it’s not a rewatch high on my list, just put it that way. Is it fun? I’ll give it that. Even though the comedic parts of the film were a huge fault that created terrible scores for other parts in the film, the comedy itself sometimes actually worked, but that’s about it. I have no impulse to buy it, own it, or talk about it with anyone. It also never really sucked me in, and that had to do with the comedy, again.

SPECIALTY TOTAL – 25/50
Mind Control – 10|Sci-Fi – 5|Comedy – 5|Horror/Thriller – 0|Halfway Decent – 5

We’re finally onto the five specialty questions that I asked before seeing the film. First and foremost, how well does it fit into the monthly theme of mind control? Very well. I was unsure if they were actually robots or something else, and it’s quite literally mind control – as they put computer chips in people’s brains. That’s the science fiction element, but apart from just accepting that the computer chips do stuff, it’s not super in-depth, so only half points for the sci-fi angle. How was the comedy? Well, the comedy works in places but doesn’t in others, so half points there. I also expected something to do with horror or thrillers, and that’s clearly not apparent whatsoever – no points there. Finally, was it halfway decent? For this, I’ll have to only give half points because I think they dropped the ball in certain areas that could’ve easily been better. Even most of the cast regret doing this film based on a ton of rewrites that basically turned it into a different film altogether. Now, I’m wondering what the differences are in the original script…

TOTAL – 52/100

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