I’ve seen bad movies. They usually inspire nothing more than indifference or boredom. But sometimes. Sometimes a bad movie is so awful, so offensive to my sensibilities as a film-goer that it transcends being merely “bad” and metamorphoses into some kind of nightmarish object of pure spite aimed directly at me. Rarely have I encountered something that seems to beg for me to hate it.
But until a few days ago, I hadn’t seen the remake of The Stepford Wives.
Now, I hadn’t meant to watch it. It had all happened by pure happenstance. I’d gotten home from a long day of work and decided to flip on the TV and chat with Tim, my co-grump. I surfed channels until I landed on FX. The Stepford Wives was on. Oh, I’d always meant to see this, I thought, but the bad reviews repelled me from theaters. Now I could check it out for free. Holy fucking shit, people.
OK, so I joined the movie a little ways in, but here’s the skinny. Nicole Kidman is a raging bitch queen who’s super-successful and that makes her feel totally superior and for whatever bullshit reason she has to move her family from New York City to Stepford, Connecticut. She totally doesn’t fit in there. She’s got a bug up her ass and an unflattering haircut (her pixie cut in Birth is way better; coincidentally, so is Birth) and doesn’t do the whole housewife thing. Her simpering, stifled husband starts feeling his oats as he chums it up with the locals. Stepford’s a pretty “traditional” place, whatever that means! And according to the movie it means that men are nothing more than grown children and wives are perfect slaves that will have sex with you and make nachos at the same time. All in a ridiculously huge frock like something out of Gone with the Wind. This pisses Kidman off cuz she’s an asshole and she goes around questioning the order of things until she comes across the “shocking” “secret” that Stepford is hiding.
So much bullshit, so little patience.
First of all the characters make me want to travel back in time, walk onto the set and personally punch every actor in this movie in the gut. They’re more than just annoying: they’re purposely spiteful. Whoever wrote this movie hates movies and the people that watch them. No one in this movie could even be close to being called two-dimensional. They ASPIRE to be one-dimensional. Kidman’s character is such a raging, unjustified bitch to everyone everywhere. She doesn’t really have a reason to hate Stepford except for the fact everyone else is nice and it makes her look bad because she is bad. And at first I thought the character must just not have enough insight to see that in herself, but during an extremely painful to watch heart-to-heart with Matthew Broderick, her charisma-free husband, it’s clear she knows she’s an awful person and is hateful for no good reason and doesn’t see anything wrong with that.
But who’s worse are her sidekicks. Bette Midler plays the worst woman in the history of the universe. She’s a spiteful, nagging, obnoxious slob who excuses all of that because she’s some famous author and she becomes quick friends with Kidman because they both think something’s up with Stepford and they’re both gaping cunts. Then there’s the gay friend who I don’t even know who the actor is because he’s a nobody. And everyone knows that a chick flick needs a gay best friend because gay men are just like women, right?! Right!! Oh my god he’s the biggest homosexual stereotype since the gay steel mill in the Jon Waters Simspons episode. Pastels and crazy patterns and wrists flying everywhere. When they rummage through his trash, they find a portrait of Orlando Bloom and a shirt with Viggo Mortensen’s face on it. (OK, Viggo made me laugh just a little.)
It should go without saying that these three make an abysmal group of friends, but they’re also boring as fuck to watch. They don’t say or do anything remotely interesting. Several times I found myself asking “WHY!?” when they were on-screen. They infiltrate one of the houses of the other people and listen in on them having sex. Does it not occur to any of them how unacceptable and awful that behavior is?! No, because they’re shitty people in a shitty movie.
Now onto the retarded, inconsistent plot. SPOILERS if you haven’t heard of this movie before because it turns out the wives are robotic replacements being controlled by their giggle-snorting, mouth-breathing husbands. One of them puts a $20 bill in his wife’s mouth and she spits back up change in singles. But see, none of this makes sense because later on they explain that everything is just done with cyborg implants in the brain. Which makes no sense because for most of the movie we see them clearly being treated like and acting like robots. Sparks fly out. Where did those dollar bills come from?! But the movie could give two shits because at the end all it takes is a few CGI graphics of devices dissolving (?!) in order for all the wives to regain their sense. How is that possible if they’re all robots?! And if they’re not robots, how did they do all that robot stuff?! ARGH! None of the little details in this movie ends up making any sense.
And then there’s the coup de grace of shittiness. At the end, Glenn Close, who’s been slumming this whole movie but gratefully in the background most of the time, gets a huge, hammy, awful monologue where she explains her evil schemes. It’s like literally a four or five minute scene that interests no one. She just rambles on and on about traditional gender roles and her husband cheating on her and her ability to make androids and blah blah blah. It’s all made worse by her acting spinning ludicrously out of control and ending in an act that gives a weird sort of nod to Batman Returns, if you can believe it.
And the acting in this movie. Christ. There are times Nicole Kidman surprises me with her talent (Birth, The Hours) and there are times like this where I have to ask how many casting couches she’s been on. She’s awful in this movie. It’s like no one was telling her to scale it back. Every scene is some variation of her overreacting in some way. Every emotion is BIG and INDIGNANT and RIGHTEOUS, even when it’s clear her character is in the wrong and is a complete ungrateful bitch. Every other line is “WHOAHAOHAOAAOHAHA, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLLLLLLLLE CAN’T YOU SEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!?!?” Bette Midler. What the fuck is her career. What the fuck is her APPEAL? She’s terrible and terrible in this movie. No subtlety or dimension to her portrayal. And Gay Best Friend needs to time travel back to the 50s when stereotypes like him were quaint and necessary. LIKE THE WOMEN IN THIS MOVIE. And when did Christopher Walken stop being able to speak English? He speaks some kind of odd Walkenese now, and although it’s unintentionally hilarious, hearing how much effort he actually put into acting in earlier roles just makes me sad to see the guy from Deer Hunter reduced to this and Balls of Fury. And Matthew Broderick, fuck. The last good movie he was in was Election. And Jon Lovitz is never good in live-action stuff. YEAH, JON LOVITZ IS IN THIS MOVIE, BET THAT MAKES YOU WANNA SPRINT TO THE CAR, DRIVE TO BLOCKBUSTER AND RENT THIS MOTHERFUCKER, HUH?
And why does this movie have so many CG special effects?! They’re not even any GOOD. They make the ones from The Mummy Returns looke natural and life-like. It’s extremely obvious when there’s an effect going on because it’s always rubbery, fake and unnecessary. For example: there’s a robot dog for some reason. Now, you’d think the practical way to do a robot dog would be to have a remote controlled puppet. But instead they just decided to make it CG. Which makes it look dreadful and embarrassing. But I guess if anyone involved in this movie worried about stuff like that it would’ve never been made.
Y’know, I was pretty disappointed when I discovered who directed this piece of shit. Frank Oz: director of the classic The Dark Crystal and voice of countless Jim Henson creations and Yoda. Sigh. He must’ve been high off of the crappiness of the Star Wars prequels going into this because I could’ve sworn it was made by someone who doesn’t know the first thing about movies. Researching things a bit, I found out that this movie was test marketed to hell. A scene that actually would’ve explained the inconsistency of what the Stepford wives actually were was cut, but thankfully so was an even more ludicrous ending and possibly the single worst scene ever devised for a motion picture. So with all this test marketing, were they ever told this movie was a pile of dung? Did anyone have the balls? Or were they all knowing accomplices in shoving this turd into theaters and indelibly into the minds of everyone who saw it? The end result is the same: an unwatchable remake.
Doing even more digging, I discovered that the reason Nicole Kidman accepted this role was that she found out Frank Oz would be directing, and she figured this would be the closest she would get to working with Miss Piggy, whom she loves. That explains so fucking much.