Why Nicole Kidman-Starring Stepford Wives Is Worth Watching

The 2004 sci-fi dark comedy The Women of Stepford (with Nicole Kidman) was a remake of a satirical novel written in 1972 and a psychological satirical horror film released in 1975 of the same name. The story deserves to be revisited several times because the importance of the premise – a family moves to a new neighborhood and the wife slowly begins to suspect that her fellow housewives may be robots created by their husbands – has changed in over time. The story is iconic, as it is a social commentary on the hive mind shared by many communities, particularly in regards to the domestic expectations of women.

Although The Women of Stepford was considered a box office failure, the movie is actually quite funny and entertaining and deserves more recognition for that fact. The cast was also incredible, as it featured not only Nicole Kidman, but also Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, and Glenn Close. There was a lot of energy and support to sustain this remake and set it apart from its original release. The creators went camping this time, adding ridiculous scenes to cut the tension that was building in the relationships between the characters.

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Kidman has proven many times throughout her career that she can pull off comedy and drama, especially in other iconic movies she’s starred in, like red Mill. In The Women of Stepford, she plays a successful reality TV executive producer whose career suddenly ends at the start of the film. Her husband Walter (Broderick) takes her out of Manhattan after her depression and they move to the suburbs. At first, she doesn’t want to fit in or change, and Kidman gives an incredible performance showing Joanna’s reluctance to get along with the other housewives in the neighborhood.

Joanna is the audience’s introduction to the alternate reality that The Women of Stepford creates. She finds two like-minded friends in the neighborhood, and they choose to be each other’s support system as well as the outsiders in the community. Walter joins the Stepford Men’s Association, much to Joanna’s dismay, but she keeps her opinions to herself. The organization embraces toxic male culture, mocking their women as they sit and smoke cigars while playing pool. Walter loves his wife, but he plays the game to fit in with his fellows, which creates tension between him and Joanna.

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There are times of laughter The Women of Stepford, including the Christmas carol scene and the scene where the misfit trio discovers that Sarah might be a robot. As the pattern of the whole operation unfolds, the film changes tone, becoming more terrifying and disturbing. Joanna’s two friends have become robots themselves, and she urges Walter to leave, discovering that all the housewives in their neighborhood were once powerful women like her. The cultural shift from the 1970s to the early 2000s adds weight to this pivotal moment in the film, reminding audiences of how far women and feminism have come.

Towards the end of The Women of Stepford, viewers are tricked into thinking that Walter may have betrayed Joanna, but it is later revealed that he did not. They plan to expose the truth and free the minds of the neighborhood housewives. Their plan begins to work before the big reveal that Glenn Close’s character was behind it all. She wanted a beautiful and perfect life for everyone who lived in Stepford after finding out her husband had cheated on her and murdered him. There’s also a moment of comic relief here, as someone comments on how unhinged she is.

In the end, the women do justice to the men, regaining control of Stepford and their relationships. Larry King talks on his show about how the city retrains its husbands to become better people. It plays more into the toxic dynamic between husband and wife in a “typical” unhappy marriage. This end to The Women of Stepford might have sounded lackluster to many reviewers, but the ridiculousness of the entire premise and execution of the film warranted a polished ending. The film was meant to take its viewers on a wacky ride, and The Women of Stepford successful.

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