It's old versus new in Stepmom, a contemporary drama starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. Sarandon plays the loving and protective mother of two children and the ex-wife of Ed Harris, who has found new love in the more youthful Roberts. She is trying the best she can but Sarandon doesn't think her effort is good enough.
The acting is good enough, but Roberts doesn't have her usual flare. There is also something about Sarandon - her eyes seemed to bulge a lot - that was a little annoying. I would have liked to see more of Ed Harris. Actually, the best performances come from the crabby Jena Malone and the psycho Liam Aiken, the two children actors. Liam Aiken is especially likeable.
Likeability is probably the biggest problem with Stepmom. Julia Roberts character is overly good, but she does have a temper from time to time and takes it out on the kids. Susan Sarandon is believably protective, but that doesn't make her any less of a witch. Her "evil," which is supposed to be overlooked by the end of the movie, is pointed out when she takes Roberts' idea of going to a Pearl Jam concert and uses it as her own. Ed Harris is likeable. The girl, Anna (Jena Malone), is, as stated in the film, "Frosty the Snowbitch," as she is about as intolerant as they get.
Furthermore, there is nothing exciting about this movie, nothing to motivate me to watch it. The only reason I watched this movie was because it came with my DVD player. Stepmom shows two different perspectives of raising children (the knowledgeable versus the hip), and other than that, there is nothing above temporary conflict. At one point, Sarandon is talking about a court order to keep Roberts away from her children, and the next scene she's asking her to watch her children for the day. Of course, one of the characters is dying (take a wild guess) so that is supposed to bring some emotion to the screen, but all we get is the children asking questions beyond their years.
On its own, Stepmom is not a bad movie, but compared to everything else that is out there, it is a long way from falling on the "Top Picks" shelf.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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