Stepmom (1998)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Family Drama, Medical Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Michael Costello

Chris Columbus' reprise of better films such as Tears of Endearment (1984) is a standard tearjerker domestic melodrama which looks to smooth over the intractable realities of divorce and death. Painting in his usual broad strokes, the director proves that he knows his audience well, deploying the same heavy-handed sentimentality that made films such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Nine Months such huge hits. As a saving grace, Susan Sarandon, at the film's center, is excellent as the divorced mother of two, reluctant to trust her two children with her husband's new girlfriend, ably played by Julia Roberts. Ed Harris also gives a typically fine performance as the divorced husband, bewildered by the struggle between the two women. The utter predictability of the plot, as backbiting gives way to tearful hugs under the weight of impending death, is relentlessly telegraphed by a director unwilling to let an audience think and feel for itself.