Matthew Broderick

Movie Issues: The Stepford Wives

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Movie Issues: The Stepford Wives

This week Leland is once again in LA and gathered two of his best buddies to watch one of the worst movies ever made. 2004s The Stepford Wives. Frank Oz directs Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close in a remake of the 70s horror flick. This remake has no idea what it’s trying to be. A horror movie, a comedy or a combo of both. It’s literally two movie smashed together into one bad one. Please download and listen to find out how.

Also, as it tends to happen sometimes, the audio in this gets rather loud at times as there was much drinking going on. We all apologize for the loudness and glasses hitting the table from time to time. We tried our best, but shit happens. We’re sorry, but you have been warned.  Read On

Movie Issues: Godzilla (1998)

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Movie Issues: Godzilla (1998)

With the new Godzilla being unleashed today into theaters, the guys thought they’d go down memory lane and revisit the 1998 version of Godzilla. Oh what a mess. If they had just called it Monster in Manhattan, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad? Naw, it still sucks. It has nothing to do with Godzilla except the name and the roar. What else do you expect from a movie where Ferris Bueller is is fighting a giant lizard monster. The guys also talk a little about the new TV shows coming this fall and discuss the new Bat suit. It’s just another normal day here at Movie Issues HQ, please download and join in the fun. Read On

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The Stepford Wives (2004)

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When Ira Levin’s book was made into the original movie in 1975, it was a chilling allegory on the value of nonconformity and real love. Its camp value was unintentional and no doubt now a source of embarrassment to the filmmakers. It was meant to be a suspense movie, a horror movie. I suspect, I mean, I haven’t interviewed any of the filmmakers and I am certain the dire fashions of the time will render any unbiased interpretation impossible were I able to find it on video. Theirs was a sci-fi vision of suburbia hell with horrid floppy hats and peasant chic.

Frank Oz’s Stepford Wives film, however, is very much in on the joke, which can defuse an explosive if the nods and winks are obvious. Gone is the biting social commentary in favor of pop cultural mockery (however just) and letting Matthew Broderick nebbish away the last vestiges of Ferris Bueller’s soul. That, and letting Nicole Kidman run around in one violently unflattering getup after another. Christopher Walken doesn’t even get to really be Christopher Walken; ditto for Jon Lovitz being himself. Bette Midler, on the other hand, hasn’t gotten to really be Bette, fun, self-deprecating Jewish comedienne since The First Wives Club. Welcome new face Roger Bart as the important half of the first gay couple in Stepford, who lends much camp to an already campy scene and a nice attempt at a modern twist on the Stepford Wives’ notions of sexual politics.

Enough cannot be said about Glenn Close, who is probably the only actress alive who could have pulled off the climax of the film (and still be believable as the glassy-eyed matriarch of Stepford). Let’s just say her training from Fatal Attraction *and* the Dalmatians movies serves her well here. Credit must also be given to the filmmaking team for succeeding enough in the serious aspect of the story to manage to make the sight of a magazine-perfect home positively chilling.

Stepford starts strong with an estrogen-rich concoction of pop-culture mockery, and thence into insanity and creepy faux-sanity post-haste. We don’t get to know anyone long enough to get a bead on how they should be; the film seems to say, “Get it? You’re normal, they are normal like you, this is weird, let’s get on with the good stuff.” Using Oz’s 30-some-odd-years of brilliance with spectacle and composition, he takes care of the gaps in the new script with good visual work. Apparently, he also paid for it with truly embarrassing amounts of product placement.

If you don’t know, nerds bring their hot, successful wives to Stepford and they (the women) appear to become Miss America runners up with no aim but to please their man, and in a creepy, 1950’s marriage manual kind of way, too. Men’s fear of being overcome by their urban goddesses is obvious, but why did they marry them in the first place? It’s still pruriently sad that it seems like such an obvious fantasy, and why do people still buy into it? It’s so wooden. We get no answers – this is a comedy. It’s not chilling. It’s sad that we have not come so far after all, which does take some of the zing out. However, it’s worth a rent and a chuckle just to see Roger Bart and Glenn Close do their thing.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 6/11/04
Time in minutes 93
Director Frank Oz
Studio Paramount Pictures

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Inspector Gadget (1999)

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I must preface, yet again, with the fact that I never saw the original cartoon TV show, and therefore had no expectations to set the tone. It’s kind of a gentle Robocop meets The Mask. I find Matthew Broderick to be always a winning actor, almost no matter what the vehicle, so I figured I would have a pleasant ride and go home. Oh, and Rupert Everett and Andy Dick are bad guys! Winner! Overall, I enjoyed myself. I laughed more than my companions did, and my roving, set-dresser-wanna-be eye picked up a lot of funny things I am certain most people missed. Inspector Gadget is also chock full of cute movie references; I say cute because sometimes they are executed in a tad too precious a manner, but there is plenty for adults to get that kids won’t notice. But it’s no Muppets From Space (Go see that, people, it’s dying at the box office – there may never be another Muppet Movie!!!!).

Disparity! My companions were mildly insulted by the product placement (something my frequent readers know needles me) and by the Poochy-esque talking car. The car itself was so cool (some huge Continental with suicide doors) and Broderick so winning that by and large, I was not really insulted so much as in neutral. I was pleased at the general *lack* of Extreme Preciousness that has pervaded live-action Disney movies of late. By “of late” of course I mean at least 15-20 years. The script engages in a little self-reference and some general friendly Disney mockery, but not so much that it would really qualify as edgy and post modern. No one can do self-effacement like Ben Stiller, and he would have made a terrible Inspector Gadget. Sure, there are some moments of “oh brother,” but I know through the eyes of a child it would not be bad at all. Think gallons of toothpaste hosing uncontrollably. Remember when that was funny? Well, I do! It’s not funny now, but I know it is to young’uns!

I pretty much sunk in and let myself be a kid, and I laughed at much more than I would have laughed were the rest of my life not so freaking stressful. Some sight gags (even some shots used to death in the preview still worked for me – another rarity) really cracked me up! Sure, it’s silly, sure, it’s heavy handed sometimes. The premise is of course ridiculous but who cares – you don’t see Inspector Gadget because you want to be awed by the latest in actual technogizmory – you go see Inspector Gadget to see a generally normal guy with wacky bits sewn into him do outrageous things. Oh and did I mention the delicious I-can’t-believe-he’s-forty Rupert Everett doing an American accent and actually *toning it down!* He seemed to enjoy his puckishness more in My Best Friend’s Wedding – indeed, perhaps working with Stanley Tucci as Puck gave him pause as to expressing his effervescent fabulousness. Andy Dick is an amusing foil to Everett – two tall, gangly men, as opposite as can be, what a team!

And that car! It’s a nice, hot Sunday afternoon diversion. Don’t expect the script from A Bug’s Life; don’t expect the technological wonder of Wild Wild West, and do expect a pretty bouncy, exciting score. Relax, have some Raisinettes (if your evil theatre chain didn’t stop selling them, that is! Curse you, Regal Cinemas!) and have fun. It ain’t rocket science.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 7/23/99
Time in minutes 78
Director David Kellogg
Studio Walt Disney

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Addicted to Love

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Addicted to Love is an offbeat romantic comedy about revenge, voyeurism, the nature of love, and what makes one feel complete. Maggie (Meg Ryan) is an off-putting loony you can’t help but like, and Sam (Matthew Broderick) is a guy who, post-dump, wants to regain what he thinks he’s lost. Their interaction throughout the movie, while interesting in and of itself, wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans without their exes – played by Kelly Preston and Tchéky Karyo.

While having their former lovers under surveillance, Sam & Maggie interact deeply and honestly yet ignore their actual camaraderie for the false but fascinating one they create with their exes.

The movie is filled with really innovative shots and use of light, both in the actual making of the movie and within the plot. I don’t want to give anything away, but the shot with the paint roller is my favorite in a long time.

Pre-release press has stirred low expectations for this movie and I truly hope everyone ignores it. The situations may be unusual, but all the characters behave and react with utter loyalty to the internal logic of the world freshman director Griffin Dunne has created.

It’s funny and engaging, full of genuine honesty cleverly edited into a satisfying tale. There are so many oportunities for this movie to make the wrong choices and I was overjoyed that those pitfalls were avoided.

The audience seemed delighted, but not in that soft-focus warm fuzzy delight, but by the sheer pleasure of watching an interesting story unfold. In this summer filled with gorgeous vapidity (as all summers tend to be), Addicted to Love will leave you sated.

MPAA Rating R for sexual content.
Release date 5/27/97
Time in minutes 100
Director Griffin Dunne
Studio Warner Bros.