Newest Review: ... is not - a career woman doing professional photography, young and still got her looks. She doesn't understand that this woman can put her c... more
Not your stereotypical Stepmom
Member Name: cha97mw
Advantages: well cast and brilliant acting. Many light moments in the drama.
Disadvantages: Totally predictable script for the bad stepmum routine.
I recently watched this as part of my lovefilm package. You are encouraged to keep a long list of films that you want to watch to keep the films being sent to you regualarly, and I must have decided that this looked ok. I don't particularly remember adding it, so it might have been a suggestion for me as I am fond of films starring Julia Roberts and I quite like the other main star, Susan Sarandon. They are both strong actors and likeable, so although the plot of the film is a bit predicatable I was fairly sure that I would get some enjoyment out of watching this.
The plot of the film is a fairly every day and simple scenario. Susan Sarandon (Jackie Harrison) is seperated from her husband Luke (played by Ed Harris). He has moved on with his life, starting a new serious relationship with Isabel Kelly (played by Roberts) much to the disgust of his children Ben and Anna.
The film starts particularly predictably. The children do not Isabel because she is not their mother. Isabel is not a naturally maternal person and she lets them down by being a bit unreliable and doing silly things like losing Ben on a day trip, and forgetting to wash Anna's top she wants to wear. Isabel is trying hard, but she will never be their mother, and secretly the children would prefer their parents to get back together.
Events change a bit though when Jackie is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she starts to become a bit unreliable for the children herself, and she starts to need Isabel to be the one picking the children up and taking them places for her. Jackie keeps the cancer to herself for a while until Isabel discovers her secret.
The film then takes a bit of a Hollywood saccharin approach with the women becoming more friendly to each other, and the children coming to treat Isabel as a friend/older sister rather than the horrible attitude she got from them before hand. They are almost one big happy family.
What makes this film stand out a bit even though the plot is just that bit predictable is that you can't help but like the women characters played by Roberts and Sarandon. Who can fail to like Roberts when she does that big cheesy grin so well?
The children (played by Jena Malone and Liam Aiken) are both good actors who do not falter even with the more emotional scenes. You could fully believe the characters being portrayed. Even when playing brats, they managed to portray they were deep down good kids.
I felt that this film had a lot going for it, from the cool character that Roberts played which allowed Sarandon's character to be less uptight and bond with her children more in this very difficult time. I had a few little chuckles at silly things like Isabel letting Anna mess around wearing make-up which her mum Jackie then used as ammunition against Isabel, or the magic tricks performed by little Ben, and the sing alongs had in the car to pop songs.
I also found myself grabbing a tissue when the two women were discussing what would happen with the children after Jackie's death. These two actresses are well versed in how to play weepie moments. After all, who can forget Roberts in Steel Magnolias. It might have been a long time ago, but I still remember clearly how moved I was.
This is definitely a chick flick. My husband had no interest at all in watching this with me once I told him what it was about, and he would have been bored to tears. I have to say, if the acting and casting hadn't been as it was, for example if it were unknown actresses playing Isabel and Jackie, I perhaps would have been less interested myself, but as it stands, this was a fine film, which amused me for its full 124 minute run time. I was even thinking to myself, oh, it's finished already?
It's what I would call a fluff film. There is no real purpose to watching it other than entertaining me, which it did, so I am happy to give this 4 stars.
Summary: You'll need at least one tissue to watch this one.