Stepmom is the story about the rocky relationship between Jackie (biological mom) and Isabel (soon-to-be stepmother). In the opening scene, Jackie, played by Sarandon, walks in on Isabel, played by Roberts, in a struggle with Jackie’s two children while attempting to get them ready for school. Jackie aloofly takes control of the situation and whisks the kids away while insulting Isabel’s lack of abilities. Thus sets the tone for the next hour and a half of the movie: mother insulting soon-to-be stepmom at every open opportunity.
When I first watched this movie nearly 17 years ago, I was watching through the lens of a stepmother. I was very defensive of the character of Isabel, becoming, at times irate with Jackie for insulting Isabel constantly. This was so commonplace that at one point her son, Ben (played by Liam Aiken), tells her that if she really wants him to hate Isabel, he will. At this point in the movie, I really expected the mother to realize the position she was putting her children in and try to mend her ways. But, alas, this does not happen and mom continues to insult poor Isabel to no ...
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...m is sick. Stepmom picks up the slack of mom during her illness. Mom and stepmom develop a mutual respect for each other, with the ending being a total tearjerker.
The movie has won several awards including Susan Sarandon’s performance nomination for a Golden Globe in 1999 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. However, upon my second viewing, I found it to be lacking something. There was no closure, no setting up the stepmom as being heroic in anyway, which I guess is what I was hoping for when I wanted to view it with my stepdaughters. I was hoping that Hollywood had finally found a way to portray a stepmother as something other than evil and wicked. Instead, they never even had Isabel actually assume the role of stepmother since she never did get married during the course of the film. So, I guess the title is a little misleading, isn’t it?
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