Film / Stepmom

A 1998 comedy-drama directed by Chris Columbus, starring Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, Ed Harris, and Jena Malone.

Jackie (Sarandon) and Luke (Harris) are a divorced couple, struggling to help their kids Anna (Malone) and Ben (Liam Aiken) adapt to the new lifestyle as a result. Luke gets a new girlfriend in Isabel (Roberts), a very successful advertising director who treats her career as the most important part of her life. Anna hates her at first, but after Jackie is diagnosed with cancer and starts treating Isabel better, Anna warms up to her. Isabel, as a result, starts becoming less career-driven and more family focused.

This film provides examples of:

  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Aside from some mild pallor, the cancer stricken Jackie looks as pretty and healthy at the end of the film as she has throughout the entire film.
  • Career Versus Family: Both Isabel and Jackie dealt with this in varying degrees.
  • Jerkass: Jackie is determined to hate Isabel especially after she gets engaged to Luke. She tries to undermine Isabel's growing relationship with her daughter by sabotaging any attempt to get closer. An example is earlier in the movie Isabelle suggest to Jackie that she takes Anna to a Pearl Jam concert. Jackie Veto's the idea saying Anna is too young. Later after Anna and Isabel get closer Jackie steals Isabelle's idea right in front of her.
  • Primal Scene: Offscreen, Anna walks in on Luke and Isabel having a Shower of Love.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Jackie's "terminal" cancer. (And she's still alive at the end of the film!)
  • Whole Plot Reference: A TV movie titled "The Other Woman" released a year earlier had the exact same plot, with the exception of it being two daughters rather than a son and a daughter.
  • Will They or Won't They?: A non-romantic version, as the two main females have opinions that change so often in the course of the movie that the movie might have changed writers every five minutes.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Averted with Isabel as she couldn't be nicer. Too bad she gets a lot of unwarranted hate from Jackie and Anna (at first).