Stepmom is a 1998 American comedy-drama film directed by Chris Columbus and produced by Wendy Finerman, Mark Radcliffe, and Michael Barnathan. The screenplay was written by Gigi Levangie, Jessie Nelson, Steven Rogers, Karen Leigh Hopkins, and Ronald Bass. The film stars Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Harris. Its plot follows a terminally-ill woman dealing with her ex-husband's new lover, who will soon be their children's stepmother.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Columbus
Screenplay by
Story byGigi Levangie
Produced by
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited byNeil Travis
Music byJohn Williams
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • December 25, 1998 (1998-12-25)
Running time
125 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$50 million[1]
Box office$159.7 million[1]

Stepmom was released in the United States on December 25, 1998, by Sony Pictures Releasing. Despite receiving mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, the film was a box office success, grossing $159.7 million worldwide against a budget of $50 million. Among other accolades, Sarandon was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her performance.

Plot edit

Jackie and Luke Harrison are a divorced New York City couple who are struggling to co-parent their two children, daughter Anna and son Ben. Luke, an attorney, is living with his girlfriend of one year, Isabel Kelly, a successful fashion photographer several years his junior. Isabel, who has never wanted to be a mother, tries hard to make Anna and Ben feel comfortable. Anna repeatedly rejects her overtures while Ben, who likes Isabel, adds extra complications with his mischievousness. Isabel behaves with contempt tempered by caution around Jackie, believing she overcompensates for the divorce by spoiling her children.

Jackie, a former publisher turned stay-at-home mom, treats Isabel coldly, seeing her as an immature, selfish, overly ambitious career woman. She also continues to harbor malice towards Luke, as seen in confrontations about Isabel's parenting. After many arguments and hurt feelings involving Isabel, Jackie, and Anna, Luke proposes to Isabel, making her Anna and Ben's future official stepmother. This causes even more friction between the kids and adults respectively.

Its later revealed that Jackie has been silently battling lymphoma for some time, and the results of her latest scans say the disease is now terminal. She experiences a range of negative emotions, specifically jealousy of the woman who she feels is replacing her, and anger that after all of the sacrifices made for her children, she will never see them grow up. Jackie actively sabotages Isabel's effort to bond with the children, even to the point of refusing to allow Isabel to take Anna to see Pearl Jam and then later taking her to the concert herself.

Isabel and Anna's relationship eventually improves, and they bond over shared hobbies: music and painting. One day, after bringing back Ben from a birthday party, Isabel confronts Jackie, so she informs Luke and the children of her diagnosis, resulting in Anna emotionally storming out. That night, Jackie loosens up the tension by singing and dancing to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Ben, soon joined by Anna too.

Both Jackie and Isabel continue to have disagreements, largely over Isabel's parenting. When Ben goes missing on Isabel's watch, Jackie threatens legal action and claims to have never lost him, which she later admits to be untrue. At school, Anna is consistently bullied by a boy she once liked and the two women give her conflicting advice, causing more tension.

Jackie later invites Isabel to have dinner with her, and they work out a shaky truce, coming to terms with Jackie's impending passing and Isabel's role as a stepmother. They bond when Isabel reveals her admiration of Jackie's maternal instincts, while Jackie in turn praises Isabel's hipness as a means to connect with Anna. Isabel finally lets her guard down when she tells Jackie her biggest fear is that on Anna's wedding day, all she will wish for is her mother's presence, while Jackie admits her own fear is that Anna will forget her. They come to understand that while Jackie will always have the children's past, Isabel will have their future, and the children can love them both without choosing.

On Christmas morning, the family gathers to celebrate together. Jackie, now largely bedridden, shares emotional moments with her children individually, telling them that she will remain with them as long as they remember her. Isabel takes a family portrait of Luke and Jackie with the children. Jackie demonstrates her acceptance of Isabel by inviting her to join them, stating, "Let's get a photo with the whole family." Isabel sits next to Jackie for the photo, with both women side by side, holding hands and at peace with each other.

Cast edit

Reception edit

Stepmom opened at #2 at the North American box office behind Patch Adams making $19.1 million USD in its opening weekend.[2] It stayed at the second spot for another week. The film grossed $91,137,662 in the United States[3] and $159,710,793 worldwide[1] from a budget of $50 million.

Stepmom received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics.[4] It has a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 93 reviews, with an average score of 5.3/10. The site's consensus reads: "Solid work from Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon isn't enough to save Stepmom from a story whose manipulations dilute the effectiveness of a potentially affecting drama".[5] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 58 out of 100 based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

Susan Sarandon was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and won the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress.[8] Ed Harris won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor for his roles in Stepmom and The Truman Show.[9]

Soundtrack edit

The soundtrack to Stepmom was released on August 12, 1998 via Sony Classical label.

Film score by
ReleasedAugust 12, 1998 (1998-08-12)
LabelSony Classical SK 61649
ProducerJohn Williams
John Williams chronology
Saving Private Ryan
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
1."Always and Always"John Williams3:41
2."The Days Between"John Williams featuring Christopher Parkening6:27
3."Time Spins Its Web"John Williams2:19
4."The Soccer Game"John Williams4:27
5."A Christmas Quilt"John Williams3:56
6."Isabel's Horse and Buggy"John Williams1:28
7."Taking Pictures"John Williams featuring Christopher Parkening3:12
8."One Snowy Night"John Williams5:33
9."Ben's Antics"John Williams3:04
10."Isabel's Picture Gallery"John Williams3:44
11."Jackie and Isabel"John Williams featuring Christopher Parkening2:59
12."Jackie's Secret"John Williams3:32
13."Bonding"John Williams3:55
14."Ain't No Mountain High Enough"Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell2:29
15."End Credits"John Williams6:16
Total length:53:30[10]

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[11] Gold 50,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Remake edit

Karan Johar decided to adapt Stepmom for the Indian audience. Although he initially intended to buy the rights to the film, he eventually opted to co-produce it with Sony Pictures.[12] The version titled We Are Family (2010) starring Kajol, Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal, and was released to mixed reviews and received average returns at the box office.[13][14]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Stepmom (1998)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (December 29, 1998). "'Patch Adams' Just What Holiday Ordered". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  3. ^ "Stepmom (1998)". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  4. ^ "Stars Team for 'Step' Mother of All Weepies". Los Angeles Times. December 25, 1998. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  5. ^ Stepmom at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Stepmom Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  7. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  8. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1999". Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  9. ^ "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times". Los Angeles Times. December 9, 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  10. ^ Stepmom Soundtrack AllMusic. Retrieved March 2, 2014
  11. ^ Fernando Salaverri (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. p. 950. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  12. ^ Arjun Rampal & Karan Johar talk about their new film 'We Are Family' BBC Asian Network. 4 September 2010.
  13. ^ "We Are Family Review". Archived from the original on January 21, 2011.
  14. ^ "Dabangg Dominates We Are Family Drops". September 18, 2010. Retrieved September 20, 2010.

External links edit