Release Date: December 25, 1998
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Ed Harris, Jena Malone.
Tag Lines: “Sometimes the Person You Can’t Live With Becomes the Person You Can’t Live Without.”
“When Two Woman Share One Family.”
“Be there for the joy. Be there for the tears. Be there for each other.”
Relevance: Sometimes you don’t need a funny, heartfelt or meaningful story to tell why you like a movie so much. Sometimes, without fanfare, you just do. That’s the case with ‘Stepmom.’
I saw the film via rental sometime in the Spring of 1999. I was a huge fan of the cast, especially Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris as well as its director, Chris Columbus. Mr. Columbus has already shown up on my list of most influential movies of all time five times. Check out 317. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 305. Adventures in Babysitting, 259. Home Alone and 226. Nine Months for the first four. He has one more movie that will pop up sometime later this fall. With ‘Stepmom’ he proved that he was just as good at directing dramas as he was with comedy.
The movie was a modest box office success but was not received very well by critics. Generally speaking, critics don’t like sappy, emotionally driven dramas that tug at the heart strings of its viewers. Does ‘Stepmom’ do that? Maybe. I personally do not mind my emotions being played with as long as the story, acting and directing are all top notch. And that is most definitely the case with this film. I laughed. I cried. It was certainly better than “Cats.”
I own ‘Stepmom’ on DVD and have watched it countless times throughout the years. It’s a movie that I can put on and know that it will make me smile a lot, sometimes due to the plot but mostly because I love watching great actors doing what they do best. Julia Roberts was superb as always, but those scenes with Ed Harris and Susan Sarandon were impeccable. It was like watching a master class on acting. Good acting makes me smile, even if the actors are making me cry. I just loved this movie from the first time I saw it. And I know I always will.
Today’s Thoughts: ‘Stepmom’ is both an “old friend” movie and a Kleenex movie. I often call movies that I love my friends, because in all honesty they are there for you when you need them the most. They make you remember the good times, make you smile, laugh and cry. Thus the Kleenex. So me and my box of tissues were ready to sit down today and visit with this old friend.
And just like every other time I watched ‘Stepmom,’ I smiled, laughed and cried. Despite its somber tone, it really does make me happy. The acting is so good. Period. There are no better actors than Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris. Also, both Jena Malone and Liam Aiken as the young children are equally impressive. Both of them brought their A-games to their roles. Surrounded by A-list actors and director probably didn’t hurt, but their performances are effortless. I cry a lot in movies, but it is rare that every actor makes me reach for the Kleenex. This is one such movie.
‘Stepmom’ may be criticized for manipulating its viewers’ emotions to deliver the tearful moments it brings to the screen, but I like it. A lot. And I am not apologizing for it. As I mentioned earlier, I will always adore this movie and I am sure today was not the last time that it will be watched.
Awards: Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Susan Sarandon (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ed Harris (winner).
Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.