The Stepford Wives
Ahh . life in the suburbs is great, especially for the guys who hang out at the Stepford Men's Association.
They're average looking Joes who drive sporty muscle cars, smoke cigars and watch sports on big screen TVs. They play golf while their women caddy, place bets on games of chance and nurse glasses of alcohol in the dark paneled hall. Later, they take off their "boys' club" suit coats, trot home to their perfectly kept houses and seduce their perfectly coiffured wives, all before they eat a perfectly prepared meal.
It's the kind of life Walter Kresby (Matthew Broderick) can only dream of in New York. His wife Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) is one of the country's top television executives. High strung and driven by work, she has the network eating up her ideas for a new fall lineup but has little time for him or the kids. Then a frustrated program participant lodges a complaint. The repercussions cost Joanna her job and send her to the hospital with a mental breakdown.
For Walter, it's the catalyst he needs to move his wife and family out of Manhattan and into a community where they can slow down and regroup. Packing their bags, they're drawn to Stepford, the idyllic neighborhood with stately mansions, white picket fences and manicured lawns. Here the men seem content and the women, dressed in pastel summer dresses, are exceptionally happy and perky, especially Claire Wellington (Glenn Close). Married to the community's self-appointed leader (Christopher Walken), she welcomes them with effusive enthusiasm to their new home.
But for Joanna, all this happy, happy, happy makes her a little nervous. (To say nothing about the gingham and bows.) She's relieved a few days later to meet a couple of others who don't quite fit the Stepford mold. Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler) sets herself apart as a Jewish writer with a biting sense of humor, a hunkering for ice cream and a horribly messy house. Roger (Roger Bart) is a gay man who has recently moved to Stepford with his partner Jerry (David Marshall Grant). He, too, is flamboyant, irreverent and loud. They discover the three of them are equally uneasy about the women in their neighborhood, particularly when they start uncovering some disturbingly dark secrets about the men.
Poking fun at the relentless pursuit of perfection and society's obsession with possessions, this remake of The Stepford Wives deals with mature themes and adult attitudes about feminism. Repetitive sexual innuendo, self-inflating bust lines and a crazed killer are all content concerns that don't add up for family fare.
But for grown-ups, the script poses some barbed questions about what constitutes a perfect life. If you accept the Stepford definition, it requires an unhealthy dose of saccharin, followed by some costly consequences.