Not really recommended. This was a movie with potential. A potential that was wasted on agenda. It coulda been more balanced with some good insights, but unfortunately… It’s the story of a feminist woman, played by Nicole Kidman who makes TV shows for a woman’s network, shows that elevate women over men and make men look foolish. Even destroys one man’s life in a reality show. When that guy shows up at the annual sweeps week presentation trying to kill her, the network fires her and she has a nervous breakdown. Her loving husband, played by Matthew Broderick, quits his job at the network in sympathy with her and they move to the country, trying to start a new life away from the insanity. They move to Stepford, a small out of the way town saturated with women who look like incarnations of housewives from the Fifties, happy to always look pretty, and to please their husbands at all times. And that’s what this movie is, an attempted attack on 50s traditional values, very much like the movie, Pleasantville. Hollywood has a hate affair with the 50s. Just the idea of women staying at home, raising the family, supporting their husbands, has just got to be fraudulent to these people, because they cannot conceive that a patriarchal society can have anything good in it. It is intrinsically evil to them. The movie starts out with a flurry of TV commercials from the 50s with women dancing around in dresses and displaying kitchen appliances with wonder over the credits. This sets the stage that this era is the one being attacked. This is the absurdly unreal worldview to them. Of course, how real are commercials anyway? Even the acting of that era looks overdone and melodramatic. Does anyone really think current commercials represent real life NOW? People have always and continue to look silly and stupid in commercials because they are by nature circus acts. Even 10 year old commercials look outdated and funny. So this is a definite poisoning of the well. But it is a clever poisoning I must admit. Anyway, the Stepford wives exist solely to please their husbands in looks (They’re all blonde and busty), service (They caddy for their husbands in sun dresses) and uplift them (constant compliments), in short, they are robotic, soulless and controlled by their husbands, the ultimate adolescent male fantasy, which is why the men are cleverly shown in their “men’s club” playing with remote control cars. This is all very clever and a witty, thoughtful commentary on control in marriages. The problem comes in with the political agenda. This evil control is linked to religious faith in yet another attack on Christianity. The Stepford women are shown patronizing a Jew played by Bette Midler while mentioning “their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Also a Homosexual becomes a Stepford wife for his partner and turns into a “gay Republican with a bad haircut.” He also mentions his Christian faith in Jesus, and is patriotic. And of course, special mention is made of the fact that there are no multiethnic people in the town. All cliché stereotypes of conservative Christian culture. There is no way on heaven or earth that a Hollywood movie could ever get made actually mentioning the phrase “my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ” in a positive context. This is a known fact by Hollywood filmmakers. But if you link the person saying that phrase to evil, then you can have that phrase as clear as day (as illustrated also in Saved). Why? Anti-Christian bigotry is alive and well in Hollywood. Also, traditional values, like those espoused by one of the robots, “my priorities are my husband, my family, my home,” are also the evil enemy to these people. Let’s face it, this movie is not about the wrongness of control in marriage, that could have been a great universal theme that Christians would agree with, but it really is an attack against biblical Christian marriage roles. The filmmakers are not trying to say that control is wrong, they are saying that men as heads of families is intrinsically controlling and wrong. At the end, when it is revealed that the real villain is not the head of the men’s club, played by Christopher Walken, but is actually his wife, played by Glen Close. Turns out Walken is a robot himself, and Close is not. She is actually a throwback from the Fifties who is trying to turn things back to those days. In other words, the worst villain is not so much the men who try to force women into this role of submission, but the WOMEN who believe in and support patriarchy values themselves! So, be aware, Christian women, this movie is ultimately an attack piece on YOU, not merely men. The fact that you would choose traditional values and stay at home to raise your children and support your husband, makes you as evil as the monstrous men you support. Now, there is a tiny attempt at balance at the end, but it fails because of its weakness: Broderick ends up not turning Kidman into a robot, and they reconcile and we see Kidman on Larry King, but she now has blonde hair like Broderick liked, but its still short, like how she wanted it, so that is a compromise. And she has a bit more color in her wardrobe, unlike the black that she always wore and Broderick hated. This was good, but not strong enough in my opinion. The essence of good marriage is compromise on BOTH SIDES. And that’s what could have been a great theme in this movie.
And that leads to one of TWO MAJOR PLOT HOLES that could have been fixed and made the movie better. FIRST: When the heroine, Kidman is confronted by Broderick and the other men to turn her into a robot, they argue with her. This is the classic “confrontation scene.” She appeals to Broderick that if she was a robot, then she wouldn’t love him from her will. This is great, but she fails a greater opportunity. This confrontation with the heroine and villain, in a good story, will have the heroine recognizing that though she thought she was different from the villain, she really is not so different, and in fact is guilty of the same kind of evil that the villain is. Then she makes the choice to change in order to not be like the villain. But the writer or director never followed this path. When she argues that what Stepford is doing in controlling women and ruling over them is bad, they should have pointed out to her that what she did on her TV network is the same thing. She attacked men, made them less than women and ruled over them. Ironically, the film sets it up this way in the beginning, but it never took the opportunity to pay it off at this most crucial moment. If they had, it would have been a more balanced movie with worthy, less agenda driven lopsidedness. It would have been saying that feminist control is just as bad as male control. But alas, they could not possibly make that actual connection that the story structure demanded, because that would violate their religion. But here is a perfect example where following story structure would have challenged their own extreme views. Therefore, when Kidman decides to submit to the “treatment” and be robotized, it comes out of nowhere in the movie. She gives in out of being forced, not out of a self revelation of her own evil. It doesn’t jive with her character as created. There is no way she would just give in because that is not how she is ñ unless that revelation would have hit her to the soul that she was no different than the men in her attempt to control. Then her choice to submit would have been met with her husband’s decision not to turn her into a robot and the perfect balance would have been achieved: woman submits, but man loves her with Christ’s love (Ephesians 5:22-29). Ah, so close and yet so far. ALSO, they build up this whole thing as women being made into robots. One robot woman spits out money like an ATM machine, all the women move like robots when controlled by a remote control, and then the heroine sees the robot body that will replace her on a table. So the movie sets it up that they are going to be killed and replaced with a robot. But then, Walken shows an entirely unnecessary commercial that shows the process is actually placing computer chips to control the thought process of the brain. So it’s mind control, not a robot. Then what in the world is the robot body for??!! This is an unforgivable cheat on the part of the filmmakers. They set it up as one thing and then just turn it into another with no reason whatsoever. Unforgivable. A movie that had great potential squandered on the altar of feminist agenda.