How silly fans have been in worrying about the "remake" of the 1975 psycho thriller based on Ira Levin's best seller - especially considering the differences almost 30 years have made in gender politics. Turns out, the new movie isn't really a remake; it's an over-the-top comedic invention all its own. There are skeletal similarities - neurotic wives (Nicole Kidman, Glenn Close, Bette Midler), frustrated husbands (Matthew Broderick, John Lovitz), an evil nemesis (Christopher Walken), a WASPy Connecticut town called Stepford and a surprise ending. Still, the actors' brilliant takes on their redrawn characters are cartoonish and fun to watch. And Close and Walken steal the show, especially Close's splendid good witch-bad witch meltdown. Nowhere near as colorful are Kidman and Broderick in roles as an unexplainably whacked-out couple seeking happiness. The original film turned the term "Stepford wife" into an enduring idiom for a seriously soulless ideal of a wife and mother. After this spectacle, the term will conjure an image of an empty-headed, sexed-up matron whose boobs can be inflated at the drop of a remote control. You know, funny stuff.
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