Frank Oz

The Stepford Wives

Year: 2004
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Ira Levin (book), Paul Rudnick (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This film has sat on our shelf for over ten years and I don’t think I have watched it since we were in college. The film made it into the collection as a gift for Amber on some anniversary or holiday along the way. We’re only minutes into the movie now and I’m already wondering what I was thinking. We own so many movies that there’s bound to be a dud here and there and we’ve stumbled across one it seems. I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for why it’s part of our collection but that memory has been lost along the way.

In one of the very first scenes the dialogue was clearly changed because it doesn’t match up with the lips of the actors. That’s frustrating but it was the plight of this movie. It’s one that’s been disowned by everybody involved including several actors and even the director. Not only did things not go well during filming but it suffered greatly in post production as several things were changed and some even re shot altogether. I have never seen the original film but perhaps I should seek it out now because I do like the idea behind this movie. It won’t be the first mistake I have made watching a remake of something that was much better before.

I’m thinking specifically of The Manchurian Candidate. Coincidentally that very film was advertised on this DVD. I learned a lesson when I watched the original and the very same thing could happen here. I’d really like to test that out but I don’t think it’s going to happen. A quick search shows the original film must be out of print because the DVD cost almost $70. That’s outrageous and I don’t want to see it that bad just to test out a theory. I can settle for the book but I’d have to invest too much time and I’m not really that interested.

Glenn Close is a gem and it’s sad to see her talent wasted in a movie like this. She so exaggerated in the scene where they are “working out” that you can’t help but laugh. She’s just so deftly delightful and her hand motions are fantastic. She shines in this film where everyone else is cloudy.

I have never been a big fan of Nicole Kidman but I do respect her talent. I can’t say that it’s on display in this movie though, her heart clearly wasn’t in it. I like Ferris Bueller as much as everyone else but there is rarely ever a role when I think ‘Matthew Broderick would have been great for this.’ On the other hand I can’t imagine a performance given by Christopher Walken that isn’t awesome but he’s just going through the motions in this movie and that’s a shame.

This movie was directed by Frank Oz and he has never really been a favorite of mine. He hasn’t gotten behind camera in ten years but still serves as the voice of Yoda when called upon. I don’t generally like his movies, however his final film Death at a Funeral was hilarious and needs to be added to the collection now that I think about it. Amber and I watched both the white and the black version of it years ago and enjoyed both.

Aside from Glenn Close, and that one awesome joke about Connecticut, there really isn’t much going on with this movie. It’s a really cool story but it wasn’t delivered properly at all. I wish I could watch the original to see how it measures up and maybe I’ll get that chance at some point. If anybody who has read the book is reading this let me know if it’s worth it and I’ll probably check it out. I can’t say this movie is actually worth your time to see though. It’s short and that’s a plus but even with a short running time it’s just not worth it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stir of Echoes (1999)

 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Year: 1988
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro, and Paul Henning

RYAN’S REVIEW

I mentioned in my review of Criminal that I usually enjoy movies about con men and that is especially true for this film.  I wouldn’t say that I loved this film or that I think it is awesome, but nevertheless there is a lot to like about it and it’s always fun to watch. I wouldn’t call this film exceptional by any means but sporting the duo of Steve Martin and Michael Caine makes it something special. Throw in the fact that it was directed by Yoda and you have something that is easily worth your time.

The part of Yoda in the Star Wars films was played by Frank Oz.  Oz has also been known to direct films of his own from time to time and has made some really good movies.  This movie, as well as What About Bob?, are really good examples of his work.  I am not sure why Steve Martin has not been able to transition his talents with the times but it seems now that all his best work is long behind him.  He is the center of so many great comedies throughout the 80s and early 90s but has had such a struggle making hits in his later years.  Michael Caine is the complete opposite however, seemingly getting better with each film that he makes of late.  Caine is like a bottle of fine wine, not only does he get better the older he gets but he makes every movie he is involved with better.  Caine carries an air of dignity and class with him that he is able to put on display in all the films he is part of. He has the good fortune of being a favorite of director Christopher Nolan currently and can be seen in many of his films.  Nolan is possibly the greatest director currently out there so getting a definite role in all of his films is quite the accomplishment.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a timeless comedy, it will be fun and funny for as long as people continue watching it.  These kind of con artists will undoubtedly always be part of our society and they will always spark the curiosity of movie goers when films center on them.  This is a comedy so we can enjoy the antics of these men without having to deal with the dramatic consequences these people bestow upon their victims.  I think both Caine and Martin are outstanding in the film and Frank Oz comedies are usually quite fun. I always enjoy watching this movie and I think it is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love Steve Martin. I think he is one of the funniest people I have grown up watching. I like this film as well. You get to see a younger Michael Caine, which is awesome considering most people our age know him, but can only remember him looking like an older man. This film is a silly movie about con men. It isn’t an academy award winner and it won’t have you peeing in your pants laughing, but it is definitely worth your time and is a good movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Donnie Brasco (1997)