AVENGERS DAY: All my DYS comments today will in some way refer to the shoddy Avengers film starring Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes.

1: The Stepford Wives

I have not seen a film so butchered in editing as The Stepford Wives since probably The Avengers. These two films equally have plenty of other things in common. Good source material, a strong idea of visual design, and a sexual politics which is now out of time. There is nothing wrong with playing The Stepford Wives for laughs, but as a black comedic satire there is absolutely nothing to get your teeth into. The film is not even sure whether its titular wives are robots (as they act) or their wives with brain implants, and some very fast growing blonde hair.

The original book is a nice consumer horror piece, one part invasion of the body snatchers, one part Frankenstein and a rather stupid cautionary tale about feminism. Frankly times have moved on since Levin?s books, and Bryan Forbes perhaps more striking film (which was a well judged exploitation film). Frank Oz has taken the basic premise, updated its politics to make its plot meaningless and stapled a few hyper-active histrionics masquerading as gags. Oh, he also changes the criminal mastermind, both complicates matters and goes on to making even the motivation behind the film make no sense. Basically when the characters go on Larry King Live to explain exactly what has happened, you know you are watching a legendary dud. Even David Arnold, charged with writing a Danny Elfman score one assumes, seems to give up the ghost and gives us an ?isn?t this quirky and funny? strings which irritate before the exceedingly ugly credit sequence is over.

Kidman is the only actress whose character has been written beyond a back of the beermat sketch, one assumes she got two beer mats. One of the beermats said ?you know that weather girl she played in To Die For – well her twenty years on?. And the first five minutes of admittedly broad satire on reality TV at least promises more. When we get to Stepford, we get decidedly less. The apparently bold development is in having a gay couple in Stepford – and it takes us about five seconds to work out the reductionism solution to that problem. It is nice to know that our stick in the fifties criminal mastermind is at least not homophobic (though surely by definition they should be). The entire problem with the film can be summed up in one sequence:

The first time Kidman?s husband (played by Matthew Broderick) is apprised of the Wives, he is at the Men?s Club, where someone owes him $20. The geeky husband summons his wife, places his ATM card in her mouth, and then she dispenses $20 in singles – out of her mouth. Broderick is taken back, astounded – and then remarks that she even dispenses singles.

This scene is poorly staged, unpleasant and not really funny. It is certainly gratuitous, but it also makes absolutely no sense. Where does the money come from (is she stocked up with cash inside her body -who put it there). She needs his PIN number, despite other much more complex recognition devices. Why would it dispense out of her mouth – the same hole that was the card reader. What possible use is this facility. (It also makes it quite clear she must be a robot which makes a nonsense of the fuzzy happy ending).

Bryan Forbes made a horror movie out of Ira Levin?s book. Frank Oz has just made a horror of a movie. Its your new, worst film.