Movie Reviews

Step Mom (2/3/1998)

Rated PG-13 for language and thematic elements.

Directed by Chris Columbus (Nine Months, Mrs. Doubtfire)

Starring Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris

Stepmom is fun … it’s entertaining, funny at times … and it might even cause your average iron worker to grab a few Kleenex throughout the film. The film was more than just a good script with great performances, it accurately portrayed the pain that divorce causes in a family.

The film introduces us to the Harrison's, a split family with typical split family issues: “Who gets the kids this weekend?” “You don’t discipline the kids enough!”

To make matters more complicated … enter Stepmom stage left. Now Mom (Susan Sarandon) feels like she has to compete with Stepmom (Julia Roberts) and vice versa.

“Stepmom” dives into the issues that split families face: competition, different parenting styles, and acceptance. It does this in a very real way, with believable characters.

Some have said that the film’s point was to justify the split family. Scenes like when the daughter asked her father, “But you guys were husband and wife, doesn’t that mean something?” I couldn’t help but notice that his answer didn’t come easy. “Yes, it does … but … well … when you get older … your relationships get … a lot more complicated- and there are all kinds of feelings flying around and sometimes some of those feelings change.”

I don’t think the film justifies divorce. On the contrary, it shows a realistic picture of the conflict, pain and questioning that results in this situation. The pain of the family split is evident through the film. And the conflicts the family faces are real.

When divorce hits a family, everyone has to learn a little and sacrifice a little to grow together. This isn’t an easy process, but Step Mom gives us a peek at a family who tries. I recommend the film.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?
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Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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