Stepmom (1998)

PG-13   |    |  Comedy, Drama

Stepmom (1998) Poster

A terminally-ill woman must deal with her ex-husband's new lover, who will be their children's stepmother.




  • Director Chris Columbus
  • Julia Roberts and Ed Harris in Stepmom (1998)
  • Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon in Stepmom (1998)
  • Susan Sarandon in Stepmom (1998)
  • Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt at an event for Stepmom (1998)
  • Julia Roberts in Stepmom (1998)

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1 November 2000 | samarand
Annoying, very annoying
Some movies are bad because in their making there is no talent involved, and there are others that are bad because they are dishonest and manipulative; movies of the first kind are often fun to watch, but those within the second are too annoying and insulting to be actually enjoyed. This one falls definitely in the second category. It begins interestingly enough, with a situation most of us know: a man, his children, his young new wife, his embittered ex-wife. But director Chris Columbus's only interest is to pump the saccharine in until the audience gags. So, the conflict is not solved in any ordinary fashion, but by the middle of the movie they get Jackie, the ex-wife, with cancer. Just asking, do you think the authors of this would have had a brain hemorrhage if they tried to find a solution that did not involve cancer? The way these Hollywood people hurl cancer about makes you think that they never had to see a loved person die of this horrible disease, otherwise they would show some respect. The makers of this movie also have a curious concept about cancer. They apparently believe that it is like hemorrhoids: if you don't tell people you have it, they will never notice. I don't just mean that cancer only makes Jackie look a trifle paler. I don't guess people would enjoy to see someone who really looks as if they had cancer in a Hollywood movie, but also, Jackie hides her disease from everyone in the family, apparently with success. We are even told that she had had a tumor operated a year ago, and nobody noticed! I mean, this is not the kind of operation you can walk home immediately afterwards. She had had to stay in the hospital for at least a couple of days, and, even after she was home, certainly she must have had to recover for several days. How did she explain that? That she was getting herself a complete liposuction job done? This kept me worried during the rest of the movie.

They have also some curious concepts about women, too. They apparently believe that a professional woman who is good at her job just has to be hopelessly incompetent in most other areas. Also, we are to believe that Jackie is the perfect mom, just because she owns a Singer machine and because she can always remember her children's schedule, but she is also teaching her children to be rude and bitter, and she also keeps on pulling stunts like the one with the Pearl Jam tickets... now is that supposed to be adult behavior? Also, which is Jackie's source of income? Because she does not work, despises women who do and nevertheless she has a huge house with park and horses. Is she an heiress? Did she win the Lotto? Her husband pays her such an enormous alimony? Is she a closet drug-baroness? Another mystery to keep me worried for the rest of the movie.

Another mystery is, of course, what were Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris thinking? From Julia Roberts I don't expect much, and in fact in this movie she comes across as a fantastically bad actress. On second thoughts, however, maybe this happens because she is saddled with some of the worst lines in movie history. My favorite has to be, when Jackie eventually confesses to Isabel that she has cancer, Isabel asks on the spot, very tactfully: "Are you going to die?" Anyway, this is not the kind of movie that I find moving. It is like watching a very clumsy magician who lets you see all his tricks. This movie manipulative mechanisms are far too obvious, like the scene in which the children open their Christmas gifts from Jackie, which has the children coming not together, but one after the other, in order to stretch out the scene for maximum tearjerking effect. Please...

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Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,142,440 27 December 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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