By Chris Willman
November 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Denial, thy name is Frank Oz. This year’s mirthful Stepford Wives remake is as dumb a movie as smart people ever made, but you’ll wait in vain through Oz’s directorial commentary for any ”Yep, we blew is” acknowledgement, let alone any deep dish over rumored cast squabbles and a legendarily elongated shoot. Neither is the helmer inclined to address how every last viewer left the theater baffled about whether the Stepford men of ’04 were killing their wives and replacing them with robots, or ”just” giving’em (reversible) lobotomies. He does offer clues about how the horror novel-turned-comic romp went so off course: ”This movie always has been to me only one thing, and that’s been a marriage in conflict coming through the eye of the needle in Stepford and coming out the other side better.” As opposed to being about, you know, murderous misogynists.

EXTRAS Though Oz avoids discussing the film’s central confusion, Web reports say the original rough cut had the hubbies offing their spouses and replanting their reprogrammed brains in all-purpose robot bodies. You see vestiges of this more coherent — if no less awful — comedy in effects-laden deleted scenes: One has a malfunctioning Midler ‘bot opening her chest to reveal a beer bar and literally blowing her top while feigning an orgasm; in another, a reawakened Faith Hill droid makes her husband live like he was dyin’ with her menacing Doc Ock tentacle.