Butler's Script Sale of the Week...
May 20th, 2002
What the hell's going on?
This week we had script sales about a human turning into a toad (the imaginatively named TOAD TRIP), a wooden pigeon turning into a real one (VALIANT), a man who wants to turn his wife into a cyborg (THE STEPFORD WIVES), and a studio that wants to turn Charlie Chan into a chick (CHARLIE CHAN -- I can just hear the pitch: "See, Charlie can be a girl's name, too! -- I think McG's head just exploded thinking of the possibilities for his CHARLIE'S ANGELS franchise.)
Actually, since the amazing Lucy Liu is attached to the CHARLIE CHAN project, this might not suck that much -- at least not until the scene where "Charlie" does that dumb-ass-CGI generated-impossible hangtime-roundabout-kung fu kick that began to piss me off the second time I saw it, not to mention the one hundred and fifty seventh time.
But THE STEPFORD WIVES? C'mon. Seriously. C'mon You're going to take a William Goldman-scripted 70's classic and hand it over to Frank Oz and Paul Rudnick? Whatever.
I've nothing against Rudnick and Oz. I thought IN AND OUT (which Rudnick scripted and Oz directed) was a tight, enjoyable little comedy. These guys are pros and do what they do really well. I just think STEPFORD WIVES is in a different leauge.
Goldman took the story and interweaved comedy with horror to produce a highly effective piece of satirical cinema. And if you're thinking "but IN AND OUT was a great piece of satirical cinema, too!", just relax a second, Ebert. While IN AND OUT successfully satirized modern society's perceptions of homosexuals, it pretty much smacked you over the head with it. I'm really dreading the equivalent of the "Kevin Kline gets down with his bad homosexual self" scene in the new STEPFORD. Goldman's approach with the original was more subtle, and for that reason it was more satisfying.
The realization that slowly crept up on you in THE STEPFORD WIVES (v1.0) was that the real husbands were just as bland as the robot wives they created for themselves -- and the horrible ennui of contemporary suburban life was suddenly more frightening than any "omigod they're robots!" scene.
I'm not saying that Oz and Rudnick can't pull it off. I'm just saying why bother?
-- Edward Butler