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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Stepmom

Starring: Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon
Director: Chris Columbus
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 124 Minutes
Release Date: December 1998
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Ed Harris, Jena Malone, Liam Aiken, Lynn Whitfield, Darrell Larson, Mary Louise Wilson

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Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

Bring along lots of handkerchiefs because this adult drama with that terrible title is a real weeper. It's about two women who hate each other, two kids caught in the middle, and one man just trying to survive. Ed Harris's divorced wife, Susan Sarandon, and their kids - who live in suburbia - are anything but happy when his perky photographer girl-friend, Julia Roberts, moves into his Manhattan apartment. Everyone hates her until a life-threatening illness (cancer) forces Sarandon to accept her ex-husband's fiancee. Both women are selfish - in their own way. There's the perfect "soccer mom," who values her children's well-being over everything else, versus the surrogate, unwanted step-parent who never wanted children and is far more interested in her career than raising a family. Grasping her dynamic, gritty part and running with it magnificently, Susan Sarandon's mean, bitchy portrayal could earn her the Best Actress Academy Award this year with fresh, hip Julia Roberts claiming the Best Supporting Actress prize. Their scenes are so true and so vital and cut so deep. The moving script by Gigi Levangie ("I am a stepmom. I wrote this from personal experience.") and Ron Bass ("Rain Man," "My Best Friend's Wedding") is juicy, relevant, and contemporary, and director Chris Columbus ("Home Alone," "Mrs. Doubtfire") expertly adds bite and heart to the rich texture, making it about the humanity of people - with all the laughter and tears of real families. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Stepmom" is a spellbinding 10. It's a "must see" to watch two extraordinary actresses ignite the screen with bravura, Oscar-caliber performances in a poignant celebration of family and of life.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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