The Stepford Wives (2004 film)

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The Stepford Wives
Stepford wives ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Oz
Produced by Scott Rudin
Donald De Line
Edgar J. Scherick
Gabriel Grunfeld
Written by Paul Rudnick
Based on The Stepford Wives
by Ira Levin
Starring Nicole Kidman
Matthew Broderick
Bette Midler
Christopher Walken
Roger Bart
Faith Hill
Glenn Close
Music by David Arnold
Cinematography Rob Hahn
Edited by Jay Rabinowitz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
(United States)
DreamWorks Pictures
Release date
  • June 11, 2004 (2004-06-11)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million
Box office $102,001,626

The Stepford Wives is a 2004 American science-fiction horror comedy film. It was directed by Frank Oz from a screenplay by Paul Rudnick and stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill and Glenn Close. The film is a remake of the 1975 film of the same title; both films are based on the Ira Levin novel The Stepford Wives. The remake grossed $102 million worldwide on a $90 million budget.[1][2][3]


Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) is a successful reality television executive producer. With her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) and their two children, they move from Manhattan to Stepford, a quiet Connecticut suburb.

Joanna becomes friends with Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler), a writer and recovering alcoholic, and Roger Bannister (Roger Bart), a flamboyant gay man who has moved to town with his long-time partner, Jerry (David Marshall Grant). Joanna, Bobbie and Roger witness an incident in which Sarah Sunderson (Faith Hill), violently dances and then collapses.

Joanna argues with Walter about the incident with Sarah. He tells her that her children barely know her, that their marriage is falling apart, and that she is so domineering that people literally want to kill her. Walter tries to walk out of their marriage but Joanna appeases him by trying to fit in with the other Stepford wives.

Joanna changes her look and tries to become a housewife. Joanna, Bobbie, and Roger go to Sarah's home to check up on her. They discover that Sarah has left the door open and they walk in and try to go upstairs. They quickly return downstairs to hide, and they find a remote control labeled SARAH. While playing with it, they inadvertently cause Sarah's breasts to enlarge before she falls on the staircase behind them. They run away to Bobbies messy and unmade home. Roger confides to them that Roger and his husband are having marital issues and went to Stepford to get better like Bobbie (court order), Joanna (as a last resort) and their husbands.

The Stepford women appear extremely vapid and shallow; in the Stepford book club, their story is a catalogue of Christmas, Chanukah collectibles, and decoration tips. In the men's assosiation, Walter tells the other husbands that Joanna is planning to change. They show Walter that Ted's wife is a robot.

Joanna and Bobbie sneak into the men's association to spy on the husbands. They discover a hall filled with family portraits and are caught by Roger. Roger tells them that there is nothing wrong and the girls leave. The next day Joanna and Bobbie discover Roger's favorite flamboyant clothes, playbills, and a photo of Orlando Bloom in the Trash.

Jerry tells them to meet them in town hall and they see Roger, apparently running for senator, with a new look and a new personality. Joanna wants to leave and Walter agrees with her saying that they should leave the next day. At night, Robo dog gives her a remote with her name. Joanne goes into Walter's study and discovers that all the Stepford wives were once working women in high power positions and that a champion terrier vanished and is believed to be robo dog.

The next day, Joanne visits Bobbie and she notices her house is spotless. Bobbie is blond, dressed in a Sunday dress, and blends with the other Stepford wives. The new Bobbi says that she is a whole new person and the most important thing is her cookbook. Bobbie, while telling Joanna that she can help her change, puts her hand over the fire and doesn't notice.

Joanna wants to leave and calls the camp for her kids but she finds out that they were taken by Walter. She goes back to the mens association and finds her family picture where looks like a Stepford wife. She sees all the husbands and discovers Walter confesses that after marrying Joanna he has felt undermined and all the husbands feel the same. Mike shows how they insert nano chips into their wives brain and turn them into Stepford wives. The men corner Joanna and Walter and force them toward the transformation room, but before Joanna enters, she makes a final appeal by asking whether the new wives really mean it when they tell their husbands that they love them.

The next scene shows all of the Stepford wives, including Joanna who is dressed in a Sunday dress and is blonde, are in the grocery.

With Joanna and Walter as the guests of honour, Stepford hosts a formal ball. During the festivities, Joanna distracts Mike (Christopher Walker) and entices him into the garden while Walter slips away. Walter returns to the transformation room where he destroys the software that makes the women obedient. Walter returns to the ball, where the baffled husbands are cornered by their vengeful wives. Walter reveals that Joanna never received the microchip implant; her argument during the struggle had won him over and out of his love for and loyalty to the human being he married, he joined her plan to infiltrate Stepford with her pretending to be a cyborg. Mike threatens Walter, but before Mike can attack, Joanna hits Mike with a candlestick, decapitating him and revealing that he is a robot, and not even partially biological.

Claire (Glenn Close) explains that she created Stepford because she, too, was a bitter, career-minded woman; in her case, a tired brain surgeon. When she discovered that Mike was having an affair with her research assistant Patricia, she murdered them in a jealous rage. When Joanna wonders aloud why Claire did not simply make the men into cyborgs, she replies that she planned to turn the whole community into cyborgs. Claire then electrocutes herself by kissing Mike's severed robotic head.

Six months later, Larry King is interviewing Joanna, Bobbie, and Roger, with Walter also in attendance. They have all met with success; Joanna has made a documentary, Bobbie has written a book of poetry, and Roger broke up with Jerry and won his State Senate seat as a liberal Independent. Before ending the interview, King asks about the fate of the other husbands of Stepford. Bobbie reveals that they are being retrained back in Connecticut. The closing scene of the film reveals that the irate wives have taken over Stepford and forced their husbands to atone for their crimes by placing them under house arrest.



Reportedly, there were problems on-set between director Frank Oz and stars Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, Glenn Close and Roger Bart. In a 2003 interview, Oz stated "Tension on the set? Absolutely! In every movie I do, there's tension. That's the whole point. And working people hard, that's exactly what they expect me to do... Bette has been under a lot of stress lately... She made the mistake of bringing her stress on the set."[4]

In a 2007 interview with Ain't It Cool News, Oz's take on the film was "I had too much money, and I was too responsible and concerned for Paramount. I was too concerned for the producers. And I didn't follow my instincts... I'm very proud of many aspects of the movie. The people were great. But when you sense that there's no governing thought, or that the governing thought is kind of 'Gee, I'm not sure where to go,' you can sense it... My instincts were saying, 'Don't do a big movie'. I had a very strong viewpoint to do the movie, but I didn't expect such huge stars. When the stars came, everything kind of ballooned up... I should have brought it all down and said, 'I'm sorry, I know we have all these huge stars but I don't care, I want to do something intimate.' But I didn't, I went with the bigness of it and I didn't feel right about it."[5]

In a 2005 interview, Matthew Broderick stated, "Making that film wasn't enjoyable. It was nobody's fault, but my part was not terribly interesting... It was not a thrilling film. I would hate it if it were my last."[6]

The majority of the film was shot in Darien, New Canaan, and Norwalk, Connecticut.[7][8]


Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 26%, based on 171 reviews with an average rating of 4.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "In exchanging the chilling satire of the original into mindless camp, this remake has itself become Stepford-ized."[9]

  • Rolling Stone said, "Buzz of troubles on the set... can't compare to the mess onscreen."[10]
  • Entertainment Weekly said, "The remake is, in fact, marooned in a swamp of camp inconsequentiality."[11]
  • The New York Times said, "the movie never lives up to its satiric potential, collapsing at the end into incoherence and wishy-washy, have-it-all sentimentality."[12]

The Stepford Wives Organization complained that "In Oz's version, they [the wives] were confusingly neither robots nor human beings. [...] At some points, the "Stepford Wives" are seen as full-fledged robots: shorting out, being used as ATMs, etc... In the end, however, a simple "switch off" of implanted microchips reverts the women back to their usual selves."[13]

Some critics were more receptive to the film. Roger Ebert called Paul Rudnick's screenplay "rich with zingers" and gave the film three stars.[14] However, in the "Worst Movies of 2004" episode of At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper, he admitted that, while he gave the film "thumbs up," it wouldn't be "the first movie that [he] would defend."[citation needed]

The film's teaser won several Golden Trailer Awards, in the categories of "Summer 2004 Blockbuster" and "Most Original," as well as "Best of Show."[15]

Box office[edit]

The US opening weekend's gross was a respectable $21,406,781; however, sales fell off quickly and that one weekend would ultimately represent over a third of the film's domestic gross of $59,484,742.[1] The film grossed $42,428,452 internationally; its production budget was an estimated $100 million plus a further $46 million for marketing and distribution costs.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Stepford Wives (2004)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. April 4, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "The Stepford Wives (2004)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved September 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ "50 Top Grossing Movies, 2004". History. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. 
  4. ^ World Entertainment News Network (October 2, 2003). "Frank Oz's Tense Remake". Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  5. ^ Merrick (August 7, 2007). "Capone With Frank Oz About DEATH AT A FUNERAL, What Went Wrong On STEPFORD, And (Of Course) Yoda!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  6. ^ WENN (December 22, 2005). "Broderick Hated Stepford Wives Flop". Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  7. ^ Mazzola, Caitlin; Ryan, Lidia (February 16, 2015). "Movies filmed in Connecticut". Connecticut Post. Hearst Media Services. Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  8. ^ Sherrod, Pamela (July 25, 2004). "Bringing the Stepford look into your home". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Stepford Wives (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  10. ^ Travers, Peter (June 10, 2004). "The Stepford Wives". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  11. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (June 9, 2004). "The Stepford Wives". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  12. ^ Scott, A.O. (June 11, 2004). "FILM REVIEW; Married to a Machine". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  13. ^ "The Stepford Wives Organization reviews "The Stepford Wives" (2004 Movie Version)". Stepford Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Stepford Wives". Ebert Digital LLC. June 11, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  15. ^ "5th Annual Golden Trailer Awards". Golden Trailer Awards. Archived from the original on June 24, 2008. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 

External links[edit]