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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.


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This film provides examples of:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Between Isabel and the visibly older Luke.
  • Almighty Mom: Do not mess with Jackie when she is angry.
  • Annoying Laugh: Ben's laugh always includes a brief but ear-splitting scream.
  • 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.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The film concludes with what is presumably Jackie's last Christmas. (Her funeral is shown in the original script).
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Anna.
  • Career Versus Family: Both Isabel and Jackie dealt with this in varying degrees.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Career-driven Isabel frequently dresses all in black, contrasted with housewife Jackie's soft autumnal colors.
  • Disappeared Dad: Luke always has a work excuse to leave Anna and Ben in the care of his ex-wife or his equally busy, parentally challenged girlfriend, neither of whom call him out on this. Only once do we see him caring for the kids on his own.
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  • Extracurricular Enthusiast: Anna is involved with both soccer and horseback riding. In the original script, she was also a Girl Scout with a passion for videography.
  • First Father Wins: Gender-flipped.
  • Get Out!: Jackie to Isabel after an argument.
    Jackie: You are so self-involved. You couldn't be a mother.
    Jackie: Get out of my house. Get out!
  • Good Parents: Jackie cares for her children with such effortless competence that you'd think she has never lost her temper or screwed up in any way once. And she doesn't even drink coffee!
  • Good Stepmother: The film is all about a woman trying to bond with her boyfriend's leery children and to make peace with his former wife.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Isabel spends more time caring for Luke's kids than he does.
  • Inconvenient Darkroom Illumination: Averted: Jackie opens the door wide open when entering Isabel's darkroom, but this does not appear to cause any trouble.
  • Insufferable Genius: Isabel has a pretty bad attitude at work, which her boss points out. That said, she is a very talented photographer, and her vision for a particular shoot turns out to be far better than what she had been assigned.
  • 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 Isabel suggest to Jackie that she takes Anna to a Pearl Jam concert. Jackie vetoes the idea, saying Anna is too young. Later after Anna and Isabel get closer, Jackie steals Isabel's idea right in front of her.
  • Missing Child: Ben goes missing while Isabel is working and Anna has fallen asleep. He is found safe and sound in the Central Park Zoo.
  • The Missus and the Ex: Not by choice and only because the terminally ill Jackie needs to groom Isabelle to take over for her, but bit by bit, things begin to thaw between the two and by the time the film ends, with Jackie presumably not having much longer to live, the two have become friends.
  • Momma's Boy: Ben. Oh, so much. Jackie says he was born premature, so she coddled him a bit. Unlike his sister though, he doesn't hate Isabel and genuinely likes her.
  • Not a Date: Luke and Jackie meet at a romantic-looking restaurant, both wanting to tell the other something important. He tells her that he plans to propose to Isabel.
  • Not a Morning Person: The opening scene depicts Isabel bumbling her way through the kids' Morning Routine until the perfectly groomed Jackie picks them up.
  • Parental Love Song: Jackie, Anna, and Ben dance and sing to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
  • Parent with New Paramour
  • Primal Scene: Offscreen, Anna walks in on Luke and Isabel having a Shower of Love.
  • Radiograph of Doom: We know the film is about to take a more serious turn when we see Jackie getting an MRI scan.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Isabel writes one for Anna to deliver to her ex-"boyfriend."
  • School Play: A Thanksgiving-themed concert in which Ben plays a turkey. In the original script, Anna was also in this show as an ear of corn.
  • Stage Magician: Ben.
  • Suburbia: Anna and Ben divide their time between Luke and Isabel's apartment in The City and Jackie's house in Englewood, New Jersey.
  • The Topic of Cancer: The entire family must come to terms with Jackie's diagnosis.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Luke presents Isabel with a small box, which she opens to find... a spool of thread. Luke ties one end of the thread to Isabel's finger and slides the ring down the other end.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Precious Puppy that Isabel gets to appease Anna and Ben is scarcely seen after he is first introduced.
  • 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).


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