The Stepford Wives: Special Collector's Edition Studio: Paramount Year: 2004 Rated: PG-13 Length: 92 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced Audio: English, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English 2.0 Subtitled in English and Spanish, and Closed Captioned in English Special Features: Director Commentary, 5 Featurettes, 6 Deleted / Extended Scenes, Gag Reel, Trailers Minimum Advertised Price: $19.95 USD Release Date: November 9, 2004 I’m a fan of the original The Stepford Wives, and of Ira Levin’s other spooky story Rosemary’s Baby. I liked the unreality of it all... they were spooky, and I knew they were too spooky to be real, and yet I enjoyed the ride. I accepted Levin’s version of reality and had great concern for Katherine Ross in the original Stepford, and for Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. They were characters in jeopardy, and that jeopardy was heightened by people who were just wrong, and by subtle, villainous conspiracy. Frank Oz’s version of The Stepford Wives undermines the conspiracy and spooky atmosphere by adding humor. I’m a fan of humor, in its place... but what has happened here is that the most engaging aspects of the original film are interrupted by sight gags, bathroom humor and slapstick. For those who haven’t seen either incarnation of the film, I’ll avoid discussing plot. Either version of the film is best received going in cold. I do suggest that you seek out the original film. Give that a spin. Then, if you like dark humor, give the remake a try. The Transfer Paramount has delivered a solid transfer of this film. Delivered in anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1, the picture is bright and colorful, with wonderful saturation. Black levels are solid and detail is preserved in the shadows. Whites are bright and neutral, and never bloom. The image is free of grain and digital noise. The image is sharp and detailed, with no obvious sharpening artifacts. There are no other obvious artifacts to be seen, either. Nicely done. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is spacious and clean, with excellent frequency response and channel separation. The soaring musical score sounds wonderful, and sound effects, when present, are well rendered. This track is a great example of a solid mix of a non-effects-laden sound track. Ambient noise and subtle music cues fill the room without calling attention to themselves. Dialog and foley sounds are tight and accurate, with wonderful realism. Special Features Commentary by Director Frank Oz Oz doesn’t waste any time getting into this commentary. He gets very specific very quickly, and is almost always speaking about the scene unfolding before you. He seems very prepared to talk about many different things - a pleasure given how many commentaries there are where it is obvious that no thought or preparation went into the process prior to the recording. In the thirty minutes of the commentary that I listened to, Oz speaks of story, character motivation, actor motivation, cuts, the editing process, locations, and more. He gives many anecdotes on what happened on the shooting days for some of the scenes. While not technically deep in terms of cinematography, effects, sound, etc., this is a good commentary for those interested in the construction of a film and especially the hard cutting choices that have to be made. Featurettes The following featurettes were produced by Laurent Bouzereau and are not anamorphically enhanced. A Perfect World: The Making of The Stepford Wives (19:44) Frank Oz and other crew members and cast members discuss the shooting and locations of The Stepford Wives. There are many behind the scenes clips of the sets as they are shooting. There is a lot of talk of set design and construction, location shooting, etc., as well as deconstruction of a few scenes. Stepford: A Definition (3:51) Cast and crew talk about their impressions of Stepford, and how the word has come to be used to describe the type of people that were seen in the original film and novel. Stepford: The Architects (5:59) Producer Scott Rudin got the ball rolling on this remake, when the rights became available. Writer Paul Runick and Director Frank Oz talk about their decision to take the film in a different direction than had been seen before. Included are comments from Nicole Kidman and others. The Stepford Wives (10:05) Frank Oz, Paul Rudnick Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Glenn Close, Roger Bart, David Marshall Grant and Faith Hill talk about what it means to be, and play, a Stepford Wife in this slightly unfocused featurette. The Stepford Husbands (8:08) Bette Midler, Glenn Close, Frank Oz, Matthew Broderick, Nicole Kidman, Roger Bart, John Lovitz, Christopher Walken, Matt Malloy and David Marshall Grant talk about the role that the Stepford Husbands play in the film. Stepford: Deleted/Extended Scenes There are six deleted scenes with a “Play All” feature. The scenes include: Square Dance Husbands on Driveway Bobbie’s Kitchen Lab Sequence Herb on Pole Claire’s Electrocution These scenes, totaling about ten minutes, represent but a fraction of the material that was cut from the film during production and post production. The most interesting cut scene in this collection is the Bobbie’s Kitchen scene, which features a very funny Bette Midler. Stepford: Gag Reel This is a good collection of bloopers, flubbed lines, crackups and gags that runs about four and a half minutes. Teaser Trailer Theatrical Trailer Previews Team America: World Police Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events The Manchurian Candidate Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Final Thoughts I think that this remake falls flat in its attempt to add humor to the original formula, but fans of dark humor may get something out of this film. Paramount has provided a good transfer, and some good extras on this release.