User ReviewsReview this title
If you are someone that likes to cry, and cry. Watch it. Is one of the sweetes movie ever, talking about peoples feelings, fears, and happynes. Great!
Stepmom tells you the story of an American marriage that loses its spark with time and the man seeks love outside of it. This sensitive film deals with how the family handles the delicate situation --- at times, holding out bravely ... and at other times, buckling under the emotional trauma ! The other woman, very ably portrayed by Julia Roberts, is a genuinely good human being who tries to bond with her lovers' kids inspite of their mother's (and their own) initial bitterness towards her. The plot thickens when the mother of the kids, portrayed with finesse by Susan Sarandon, is found to have cancer. The mother's days in the world are now numbered and the family must learn to carry on without her ... ! Stepmom now paints a warm and endearing picture of how the members of this family reconcile their differences and stand united and strong in the face of this crisis.
It would be UNFAIR if I rated this one anything less than 9 ... !
It's the story of a husband and wife with two kids who have fallen out of love, and now the father is getting married to a new, younger woman. The mother of the kids does everything she can to make her children hate this woman who is going to very soon be a permanent part of their life.
Julia Roberts indeed gives a fine performance as the fiancée of Ed Harris, the husband. She steals your heart in every scene she's in as this young woman who is trying so hard to be exactly what those children want and need. And in the end, she's searching for acceptance and love from them as much as they are from her. And then there's Susan Sarandon, giving one of her best performances as the mother of the children who wants nothing more than to remove her children from The younger woman completely. Sarandon's character is horrible- one of the most awful and hateful people in modern movies. She backstabs, she's overly-critical, and for a long time, she finds every chance possible to turn her children against the other woman- yet you cannot help but feel for her. As nasty as she is, you sympathize with this woman who is having to deal with her children being in the care of a younger, inexperienced woman who is living with her ex-husband. It's impossible not to understand her character's mourning and confusion. For the first time in her life, this woman is not the only mother in her children's life.
Don't be surprised if you cry- more than once. It's that good, and that affecting. Truly, this film is one of the better delights of the past few years. Beautiful story, great performances, real emotions- 8/10 stars!
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.
If you are a staunch Julia Roberts fan you may appreciate her portrayal of the unquestioning Isabel but are not likely to enjoy the abuse her character must endure.
The only characters I didn't want to punch and stab were the little boy and the future step mom: the dad was nonexistent and couldn't even try to hold his own against his mega-bitch of an ex-wife; the daughter was a whiny, lying, rude brat who YET AGAIN perpetuates the "Daddy's little girl who HATES every attractive woman next to him because Mommy Said So" stereotype; and Susan Sarandon's mom chara was one of the most overbearing, spiteful, misogynistic mother charas I've ever seen, who spoils her babies rotten to the point of making them completely detached from reality while practically abusing the unfortunate girl who's gonna "replace" her when she's gone, just because she commits the sin of being prettier, younger and with a modern mindset. And I'm supposed to feel sorry for her when she finally kicks the bucket, after all she has made others go through?
Not even great actors like Sarandon, Harris and Roberts can save this pile of manipulative, cloying, fake, pseudo-deep crap.
Julia Roberts strikes again! Basically, this film is a big ol' sticky wad of total melodrama about a bunch of snobby, spoiled rich people throwing tantrums whenever they don't get their own way. It's supposed to teach the audience something about growing up and bonding with stepparents and coping with divorce and terminal illness and a whole slew of other things, but in the end it's just stupid, contrived and stereotypical. All three of the female characters (Jackie, Isobel and Anna) are self-absorbed, rude and manipulative and the younger child (I forget his name) is supposed to be all cute and handsome and charismatic and blah-de-blah but instead he quickly becomes annoying. Anyway, the plot basically goes round and round in circles for the first forty-five minutes and then the writers realized that it wasn't going anywhere and decided to deal the Tearjerking Terminal Illness(tm) card just to wrap it up. So they have Susan Sarandon's character get cancer, resulting in a half-million Heartwrenching Goodbye Sequences(tm) which ultimately bring the family closer together. I have a lot of respect for many of the actors in this film, but in all honesty, the film itself was way too cheesy for me to stomach (no pun intended). If you're a big fan of any of the actors, it's probably worth it, though.
I got to see "Step Mom" on the way back, too. Thanks, "Peter Pan"!
I guess the screenwriter really expects us to swallow this. Sure, yeah, the REAL tragedy is that the new trophy wife will lack confidence. Come on Mom, quit feeling sorry for yourself! Cancer, chemo, and death before your children hit puberty -- well, that's nothing compared to the suffering Julia Roberts is going to face.
Wish I could get the two hours I wasted on this movie back.
Look to the horizon. It is void of RIDERS.
The film has a beautiful story, a story about a divorced couple, their children and the Stepmom. The film explains the worth of a family... it surely leaves a great moral behind. The climax is superb, it gets you moist-eyed.
Performance-wise: Ed Harris is Incredible, as ever. He steals the show in a small, but significant role. Julia Roberts is fantastic as the Stepmom. Susan Sarandon needs to mentioning, she's a class apart. Liam Aiken & Jena Malone, the kids, stand out.
On the whole 'Stepmom' is a must watch for each and every cine-lover.
Great acting, though! Sarandon, as usual, was superb. Julia Roberts was probably her best since Mystic Pizza. Ed Harris was the weakest of the cast, most likely due to the fact that he had an exceptionally unrealistic role to portray... the great guy who dumps his wife, gets her to condone his new relationship, then gets all the women in his life loving and hugging one another. Pretty heady stuff. Don't forget to avoid the candy counter on this one... it's far too sweet already.
When I stumble across a film like this, I wonder about the genre engineering that went into it.
`Let's see,' I can imagine the discussion: `a standard sickness/death movie but this time the redemption will be tied to making piece with a divorce. That gives us a chance to do lots of minidramas involving the children and the father's new lover.'
Nodding heads all around. But the one person in the room who thinks expresses concern that no one will come to such a film despite the attractive demographic engineering. This person suggests that the girlfriend be a parallel center of the film, that they get an endearing draw, like Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan. This way, the relentless drama can be balanced by cuteness and comedy. In due course, the group agrees on splitting the film, essentially divorcing the two threads: death and charm.
The two kids have to be split too: one to be serious (with some minidrama in her own life) and one to be comic, pulling all sorts of enchanting pranks.
We end up with a blended film from blended genres about a blended family. It works about as well as your average blended family.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 4: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
What raises the film, in its opening scenes, above the ordinary, is the subtle way in which the two women are portrayed by Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. Perhaps unusually for a film of this type, the thrusting career woman Isabel is the more sympathetic of the two. For all Jackie's "Earth Mother" pretensions, she comes across as a bitter and rather unpleasant character. Although Isabel was not the "other woman" in Luke and Jackie's divorce, Jackie nevertheless resents her presence in Luke's life, and uses her children as a weapon in her battle. The children, particularly the girl Anna, do not get on with Isabel, and Jackie never misses an opportunity to encourage them in their dislike.
The film's turning-point comes when Luke proposes to Isabel and, at about the same time, Jackie is diagnosed with cancer. Jackie realises that Isabel will be playing a permanent role in her children's life and, as her own disease might prove fatal, that in future Isabel may possibly be the only mother the children will have. The rest of the film tells the story of how the two women come to terms with, and learn to respect, one another.
Unfortunately, the film starts to decline from this turning-point onward. The pace becomes fatally slow, and a potentially interesting story of the tensions arising upon the break-up of a family unit descends into soap opera. I sometimes wonder what scriptwriters would do without terminal illness to rely on as a plot device. It is, however, a difficult device to use successfully; most films that rely upon it fall into the trap of maudlin sentimentality. Stepmom is perhaps better than some, but this is largely due to the skill of the three main leads, Roberts, Sarandon and Ed Harris as Luke. There is little in the script that would distinguish the film from the average "disease of the month" TV movie, except that a TV movie would perhaps move at a faster pace and would not draw out the agony to such an extent. 5/10