The Stepford Wives (1975)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Stepford Wives</strong> (1975)

(On Cable TV, July 2018) One of the problems about watching originals after their remake is that the remake is often, despite other problems, more in-tune with current tone and attitudes. So it is that the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives took a tongue-in-cheek tone to better distinguish itself from the original’s cultural ubiquity. After all, it’s not as if the idea of replacing wives with obedient robots can be taken seriously, right, right? I found the remake unsatisfying for many reasons, but the choice of tone seemed defendable. So, going back to the original, it’s a bit of a surprise to find that the concept is played here absolutely straight—as a slow-burning horror movie in which, yes, wives are replaced by obedient robots. I found the horror to be found not so much in the replacement (although that black-eyed simulacrum toward the end—eek!) as in the eagerness of so-called husbands to replace the one they’ve chosen to marry. The other big change of pace between remake and original is, well, the change of pace—this 1975 version is incredibly slow by today’s standards, and doubly so when you consider that is spends its time building to a punch that is already familiar: characters take forever to get to what we already know even before watching the film. Taking everything together, I enjoyed the original The Stepford Wives far less than I was expecting. It hasn’t aged gracefully at all (even in its portrayal of mid-1970s affluent small towns) and is often a slog to get through. Can we ask for a remake of the remake?

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