Sunday, February 04, 2007

Well, that was Anti-Climatic

I'm sick, and on Saturday night there's not much to choose from with TV. There was a remake of an old movie (I liked the original) on television, so I turned it on. (Sadly, its been years since it was released so my reaction is a bit late).

About halfway through, I found myself wondering WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK HAVE THEY DONE TO THE STEPFORD WIVES?!!!

Full Spoilers for both versions of the movie below

Seriously, the first movie was fucking brilliant, subtle, and scary. I expected any remake to be bad because everyone already knows the twist, but I did not expect:

1) Joanna to be a REALITY TELEVISION EXECUTIVE. Dear gawd, in the 70s she was a normal sympathetic woman -- this movie starts with a show that details a marriage breaking up on her reality show (a show where the man and the woman get split up, spend wild weekends away from each other -- and the example shows a man who is faithful and a woman who leaves him).

2) Joanna's friend (played by Bette Midler) is a sloppy writer. Now, in the 70s she was a bit messy, but in this fucking movie she keeps the house like a disaster area. Another perfectly normal character from the 70s taken to an extreme.

3) The friend who'd been there the longest, the first to go. In this movie, that friend is a gay man who fits the gay yuppie stereotype to a tee. It really pissed me off that he got Stepford treatment and then put up for Senate, and nothing in the movie pointed out what a huge fucking injustice it was that the man getting redone was put up as a career guy and all of the women were remade to be housewives. Its like they consciously thought "Hey, gay men are too feminine, so let's have him redone to be really masculine and uptight" and just threw that in along with some joke about Republican candidates. It was flippant, and worthy of more examination than "that's the way it is."

4) The men in town were played up FUCKING SYMPATHETIC. What the HELL?! They're REPLACING THE WOMEN WITH ROBOTS and its somehow presented as OKAY?!!? They are cold-blooded bastards who care only about their own comfort. They are selfish as possible. They're a bunch of animals. These are fucking monsters and in the first movie they were played as the monsters they were.

5) THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A HORROR MOVIE!!!!!! IT IS SUPPOSED TO SCARE THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF YOU!! They don't even try to be scary.

So anyway, I make it as far as the grocery scene that ends the first movie, and the damned thing goes on. There's a twist. Joanna's not a robot, her husband Walter is not evil and together they join forces to take out the evil male mad scientist -- Only, the mad scientist is not the mastermind.

The mad scientist is a robot (everyone else was dealing with implanted brainchips, but this guy was a full robot), created to be his wife's perfect man. Glenn Close is the mastermind.

I'm not sure how to digest this movie. I mean, I spent most of the movie getting extremely pissed off at the entire thing. The five points outlined above do a lot to dilute the power of that poetic justice at the end. Especially since, even though none of the women were physically hurt (though they were all career women who have essentially had their lives slip away from them as they were under Stepford brain-whammy), all the men got off extremely easy in the end. Basically the moviemakers made a "whipped husband" joke.

Also, I have trouble forgiving any movie that gets me that pissed off just to end with fucking insane Glenn Close. Can she even play sane? Has anyone ever seen her play sane?

I think it would have worked as a parody of the first movie, if it had been presented that way. It was presented as a remake, so I got myself worked up over a movie that, in the end, turned out to be nothing of substance.

Certainly not worth the trouble. Hollywood can't even be competently misogynistic anymore.

12 comments:

  1. It's too bad the husband was just a robot. I think there could have been interesting symbolism if the "mad scientist" were actually a straight white male overpowered just like the wives.

    Instead the only victims of the control are the women and the gay man.

    So basically, Close can't brainwash a strong, straight man? She has to resort to a robot instead? That's a little disturbing...

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  2. *nod*

    I hate to say it, but I might have to rent this one and watch it back to back with the original.

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  3. Glenn Close was sympathetic in "The Big Chill". I won't spoil it if you haven't seen the movie, but she makes a decision regarding her friend that makes her come off very sympathetic.

    She also didn't kill anyone or turn psycho in "South Pacific" (according to her IMDB report).

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  4. That movie couldn't decide what it was.

    To be honest, I didn't think the first movie was that good eithier.

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  5. I haven't seen the movie, but the TV ads appeared to be selling it as a comedy.

    Actually, that was one of the reasons I didn't see it.

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  6. The first movie (and the book) were misandrist pieces of shit. One of the most offesnively anti-male things I've ever read. The transformation of the main character's husband from a man who is happily married to a strong woman into someone willing to replace his wife with a robot just because he spent some time in the company of men is absolutely disgusting. It says that male feminists do not exist, that no man is worthy of the love of a strong woman, that all men are lying in wait to betray the women in their lives.

    By starting with the character feeling somewhat marginilized by his wife's success, and ending with him choosing not to turn her into a robot, the remake, although awful for all the reasons you've mentioned above, has finally made something of The Stepford Wives that doesn't make me, as a male feminist, want to scream my head off.

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  7. I agree on the fact that movie just couldn't make up it's mind. It would have been better with a stronger closing and some sort of retaliation.

    Personally I thought it would have been much better if... well if I had gone to see something else.

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  8. If you look at it, this movie was completely reworked to fit in with audience perception of a good movie (& that usually fails). They have one wife who is actually a frigging ATM!!! But in the end it is shown that the women are controlled with brain chips?!?!?!?

    Could anyone tell me how a brain chip can cause your bosom to inflate? How can a brain chip cause cash $$$ come out of your mouth???

    This movie was a screamin' steamin' piece of crap and to think that Roger Ebert gave this a high ranking!!

    And don't even get me started on the preview which contained a scene of Midler waving goodby and then having a mechanical glitch never showed up in the movie!?!?!


    AAAARRRRRRGGGHGHGHGHHHHHGHHH [plotz]

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  9. Gosh, I sooo glad I haven't seen this.

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  10. I haven't seen the first movie, but I did purchase and read the book (with the Nicole Kidman movie tie-in cover, just to rub it in) before I saw the remake. Ye gods, was I disappointed.

    I think it's a mischaracterization, though, to say that the men were evil. There's a nice little essay in the back of that printing of the book which explains that they're not evil, they're immature little boys, who form their boys' club and eschew actual female companionship, to the point where the main character's husband starts masturbating instead of having sex with her.

    It's a good book, ultimately, and a damn sight more internally consistent than that haphazard remake.

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  11. I haven't seen the remake, but judging from the previews, they seemed to be billing it as a comedy. To me, at any rate.

    As to Glenn Close never playing a sane person, I've noticed the same thing about Jack Nicholson. Have they ever been in a movie together?

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  12. The remake I believe was written by Paul Rudnick, who wrote the play/film Jeffrey and the screenplay for In & Out, and I think the second Addams Family movie as well. I think it was supposed to be a flat out comedy. Rudnick's work tends to be flippant and gag (in the sense of jokes) oriented and his serious moments tend to topple into the sentimental and maudlin. I like the first Stepford film, so, knowing that Rudnick was writing the remake, I stayed away from this one, knowing all of the subtelty of the already fairly on-the-nose satire would be banalized. I guess I was right.

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