THE STEPFORD WIVES is an absolute classic of its type, and there is a reason why this amazing movie has managed to earn such a powerful place in popular culture and even slang terms. It presents an idea that has to be experienced fresh, without any previous knowledge of its concept and ideas, in order to be fully appreciated by first-time viewers.
I was lucky enough to have had that opportunity years ago.
If by some equally lucky chance you personally have no idea what this movie's concept is about and are completely innocent of it, let me pass on some helpful advice; read no further than this paragraph. The movie may seem to have a snail's pace, hokey acting and a dull layout but trust me, see it through to the end. Don't stop watching it whatever you do until it finishes. I'll just say that I envy your getting to experience this film for the very first time... I wish I could be in your shoes again.
***SPOILERS AHEAD: All those who haven't seen or heard about this movie should stop reading here***
Okay, those people will be SO lucky to get to experience this sharp fable for the very first time fresh, as it was intended. I have found it classified under several different categories in different videostores; "sci-fi", "horror", "thriller", "drama", and yes, "classic". The truth is that it fits into all those categories. But however you want to personally classify it, THE STEPFORD WIVES is a powerful movie with a powerful message to share.
The movie nearly threatens to bore you to death at first as it lulls you into a fake feeling of comfort while it slowly starts dropping clues as to what is happening in the creepy little town of Stepford. After seeing it all the way through to its shocking conclusion, one can see that all the "bad acting" was deliberate and just how carefully crafted this mini-masterpiece really is.
The performances are actually all top notch once you realize how the acting was "supposed to be" in the end. Joanne and her friends are all so well-portrayed and superbly acted that you find yourself rooting for them even when you don't realize at first just how serious their plight really is. And the dark portrayal of the character "Diz" (I USED to think *I* made that name up first! ACK!) is powerful, and made all the more insultingly evil when it turns out he used to work for Disneyland; like Pinocchio's "Stromboli" character, the connection of using the technology of such a happy and innocently beautiful place for such an evil purpose makes us loathe him all the more (one gets the impression that Diz was FIRED from Disneyland for being such a selfish and cruel snake).
This movie has often been described as a Women's Lib statement. And, of course, it can definitely be taken that way. But it actually works on a far deeper level than that. There are two levels to it at once: it attacks the obnoxious stereotype of men out there who believe that all women should be slaves to mechanically do their bidding, AND it also savagely attacks the equally obnoxious stereotype of women out there who believe that all men are the selfish, heartless jerks that they are in this movie.
And as extra "plus" points, the movie even makes huge proclamations about the importance of being true to yourself and not being forced to go along with blind conformity. The women are forced against their will to eventually become "bland conformists" void of personality, a strong statement of just how awful it would be if everyone was alike and how it is everyone's individuality that makes them so wonderful and special. This idea is further enforced by Joanne's obnoxious but weak husband; he goes along with the whole idea due to peer pressure, and all the while attempts to drink the pain away with tears in his eyes because he doesn't want to do it but is nevertheless too much of a coward to say "no" due to his desperately wanting to fit in with the "In" crowd (and that's a statement that EVERYONE can and does understand).
This movie is a wonderful reminder of how it is our humanity and our individual personalities as people that make living so special. Many films have made that point, of course, but not many out there have managed to do so with the powerful "slap in the face" whallop of THE STEPFORD WIVES, an important film that still rings true in a world where people's special and individual qualities are becoming more and more ignored.
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