Whoever came up with the idea to remake The Stepford Wives as a satirical comedy had a superb moment of inspiration. Paul Rudnick fills his script with the kind of catty one-liners that he is best known for, and figures out how to put new spins on the old premise. The casting in the film is right on the money. Glenn Close embodies the spirit of Stepford with a regal insistence. Matthew Broderick consistently manages to find all three dimensions in a character that seems underwritten until the final act. Just as she did in To Die For, Nicole Kidman shows that she has a gift for a particular type of cold-hearted comedy. Roger Bart, as a very flamboyant gay man who has been brought to Stepford by his straight-laced Republican life partner, perfectly delivers all the bitchy, outrageous lines not already reserved by Bette Midler. The film falls apart when it abandons the comedy in favor of actual suspense. Somewhere in the middle of the film, Kidman is surrounded in her home by the men of Stepford, but the film's tone has been so light and inconsequential it can not muster the slightest bit of terror or suspense. Sadly, an arbitrary third-act twist (no viewer will guess who the real "deus ex machina" is) fails to wrap up the main story in an interesting way -- even as the story line about Kidman and Broderick's marriage comes to a satisfying conclusion. One gets the feeling that Rudnick got it right on the page, but that Frank Oz was unable to get that film on the screen.
by Perry Seibert review