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Stepmom (1998)

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A terminally ill woman has to settle on her former husband's new lover, who will be their children's stepmother.

Director:

Chris Columbus

Writers:

Gigi Levangie (story), Gigi Levangie (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Popularity
2,647 ( 1,241)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 8 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Roberts ... Isabel Kelly
Susan Sarandon ... Jackie Harrison
Ed Harris ... Luke Harrison
Jena Malone ... Anna Harrison
Liam Aiken ... Ben Harrison
Lynn Whitfield ... Dr. P. Sweikert
Darrell Larson ... Duncan Samuels
Mary Louise Wilson ... Mrs. Franklin
Andre B. Blake ... Cooper (as Andre Blake)
Herbert Russell ... Photo Assistant (as Russel Harper)
Jack Eagle Jack Eagle ... Craft Service Man
Lu Celania Sierra Lu Celania Sierra ... Photo Shoot Model
Lauma Zemzare Lauma Zemzare ... Photo Shoot Model
Holly Schenck Holly Schenck ... Photo Shoot Model
Michelle Stone Michelle Stone ... Photo Shoot Model
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Storyline

Anna and Ben, the two children of Jackie and Luke, have to cope with the fact that their parents divorced and that there is a new woman in their father's life: Isabel, a successful photographer. She does her best to treat the kids in a way that makes them still feel at home when being with their dad, but also loves her work and does not plan to give it up. But Jackie, a full-time mother, regards Isabel's efforts as offensively insufficient. She can't understand that work can be important to her as well as the kids. The conflict between them is deepened by the sudden diagnosis of cancer, which might may be deadly for Jackie. They all have to learn a little in order to grow together. Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When Two Woman Share One Family See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language and thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Class Divided See more »

Filming Locations:

Bedford, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,142,440, 27 December 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$91,137,662

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$68,573,131
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS (re-release) (2002)| SDDS (re-release) (2002)| Dolby Digital (re-release) (2002)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Susan Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri Martino plays the pilot/airplane in the Thanksgiving play. See more »

Goofs

On Christmas morning when Ben leans forward to hug his mother, the edge of his cape hangs down and points backward to his feet. Jackie's and Ben's shoulders are clearly visible. Change of camera shot. We see Anna walk in and then the camera goes back to Jackie & Ben. Now the cape has been artfully draped over mother and son. All shoulders are hidden. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
DJ Scott Zoe: [the morning DJ on the radio] Hey, good morning, New York. Scott Zoe here at 102.7, WNEW-FM, where rock lives. Beautiful autumn day in the city, and a great record coming your way, too.
[the song Under Pressure by David Bowie plays]
Isabel: [Isabel gets up in a rush to go and wake up Ben] Ben? Ben? Ben. Get up, get up, get up. Late, late, late. Ben? Come on, honey. Get up. We're seriously late.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dog Eat Dog (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

This Land is Your Land
Written by Woody Guthrie
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User Reviews

 
Sappy, manipulative drivel
16 July 2006 | by Laitue_GonflableSee all my reviews

I usually try to be objective when I watch films, to appreciate their technical merit above all else, but in the case of Stepmom, I fail. It's exactly the sort of puffy, ridiculous Valium that Hollywood shamelessly pumps into growing generations of cynics to brainwash them into the belief that every person in the world is a cuddly, fluffy elf-like creature and conflict only exists because it's been too long since we all sat down for a singalong around the piano.

I know I sound like a terrible cynic for judging this film in this way (I am a terrible cynic, let's not deny it), but it's difficult to swallow this tripe. I come from a - dare I use that devilish phrase - broken home myself and in fact my old man is getting remarried very soon, but I still fail to see any resemblance between Chris Columbus' vision of family harmonics and the interpersonal dynamics that exist here on Earth. And by that I refer both to the grating, fire-and-brimstone conflict at the beginning of the film and the sugary hug fest into which it slowly descends as it progresses.

There is however, nothing inherently wrong with sugary, optimistic scenarios; if they are grounded, well-driven, well-plotted explorations of discovering the light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard for me to put my finger on a perfect example but the most obvious one would have to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has nevertheless received a certain quantity of criticism from yours truly for drawing too distinct a line between "good" and "bad". In spite of that trilogy's shortcomings though, it's a good example of a golden-sunshine-lollipops conclusion that is plodded out solidly over a long arduous journey of storytelling.

Chris Columbus here dispenses with any nuance of hard work, or respect for his audience's intelligence, and dishes up a glib, emotionally manipulative treat for us to wolf down hungrily, starved for happy endings in our cinematic universe of chainsaw massacres and David Lynch.

There really isn't a saving grace to this film, as far as I can see: Its lack of realism obviously renders me incapable of truly appreciating whatever fine qualities it may have, but the dialogue is dull, performances are average and being such a suburban story, there really isn't much room for technical film-making brilliance. On top of this, every single time I think back on it I get "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" stuck interminably in my head, and that, more than anything else, is unforgivable.

2/10


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