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STEPMOM

What You Need To Know:

In STEPMOM from Columbia Pictures, Julia Roberts plays Isabel, the live-in girlfriend of Luke the lawyer, played by Ed Harris. Luke’s ex-wife Jackie, played by Susan Sarandon, thinks Isabel is an unfit mother for her and Luke’s two children, Anna and Ben. Two problems make this situation worse: Anna hates and resents Isabel, and Jackie’s doctor finds more of the cancer that she thought they had cut out of her body previously, so Jackie must start taking chemotherapy and rely more on Isabel’s shaky but growing parenting skills.

In addition to some strong foul language and crude sexual references, STEPMOM contains an important, extended scene where Jackie indicates to Ben that there is no afterlife. This scene clearly presents a non-Christian worldview and is particularly offensive because it happens during Christmas time, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Also, although Luke proposes to Isabel midway through the movie, their living accommodations throughout the story gives the whole movie an immoral slant that is distasteful. All of these things are a subtle but sweeping attack on the traditional family and on Christianity and help give STEPMOM a very low rating from MOVIEGUIDE, your family guide to movies and entertainment

Content:

(RoRo, PaPaPa, H, FR, LLL, S, A, DD, FeFe, B, M) Romantic worldview with characters whose lifestyle is not rebuked but accepted & an important example of false religion & humanism where the afterlife is denied in favor of an anti-supernatural worldview; 19 obscenities including a couple “F” & several “S” words, 11 mostly mild profanities such as “Oh, my God” & some vulgar language; no violence; no sex scenes but unmarried couple shacks up together, with divorced man’s children stay with them, & several references to sexual acts & behavior during intercourse; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking & chemotherapy patient shown using marijuana for alleged pain relief; moderate feminist elements; a few moral elements; and, poor family role models & some references to wizards because little boy wants to be a magician when he grows up.

More Detail:

Even more so than their male counterparts, many of today’s top actresses in Hollywood love to play meaty dramatic roles, especially since there are so few of ‘em. (Of course, they’d probably rather perform in quirky, offbeat independent features all the time, but there is not much money in doing that.) STEPMOM from Columbia Pictures gives two of Hollywood’s most visible leading ladies, Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon, a chance to shine in a family drama about divorce, parenting, motherhood, step-families, and death.

Roberts plays Isabel, the live-in girlfriend of a divorced lawyer named Luke, played by Ed Harris. Luke’s two children, 12-year-old Anna and 7-year-old Ben, shuttle between Luke and Isabel’s trendy apartment and the cozy home of Luke’s ex-wife Jackie, played by Sarandon. Isabel and Jackie have nothing in common. Jackie seems to be the ideal mother, and Isabel is struggling to be any kind of mother, so Isabel rightly feels that there is no way she can ever measure up to Jackie, the children’s real mother, and gain some of the children’s love for herself. Meanwhile, Jackie rightly realizes that Isabel has a long way to go before she can learn to be a good mother.

Two problems make this situation worse: Anna hates and resents Isabel, and Jackie’s doctor finds more of the cancer that she thought they had cut out of her body previously, so Jackie must start taking chemotherapy and rely more on Isabel’s shaky parenting skills. The second problem, however, gives Isabel a second chance to hone her skills and become part of the family, especially after Luke asks Isabel to marry him. Even so, conflicts between Isabel and Jackie, and the adults and the children, remain to be ironed out, and events seesaw back and forth until the movie’s resolution.

STEPMOM tries hard to be both a women’s picture and a family drama at the same time, but it has some major flaws in the final resolution of its major conflicts that mute the movie’s whole dramatic impact. For instance, the conflict between Jackie and Isabel ends in a sudden scene at a restaurant where everything is tied up a little too neatly, especially considering the little shouting match that precedes it. Also, although their acting is rather good at times, it is difficult to buy into the movie’s notion that Ed Harris and Julia Roberts actually make a romantic couple, or that a woman of Susan Sarandon’s apparent age would have a son as young as Ben, even though older women sometimes do have babies.

Finally, besides the foul language and sexual references in STEPMOM, there are two things in it that prevent it from being a family-friendly movie, even for adults. They represent a subtle but sweeping attack on the traditional American family and Christianity.

First, the movie’s ending has an anti-supernatural scene where Sarandon’s character indicates to her son Ben that there is no afterlife but that he’ll really get lots of warm fuzzies from the memories of Mommy in his “heart.” This scene clearly presents a non-Christian worldview and is particularly offensive because it happens during Christmas time, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When is Hollywood ever again going to teach the true meaning of Christmas and the fact that, “Jesus is the reason for the season”?

Secondly, although Luke proposes to Isabel midway through the movie, only Jackie seems mildly perturbed that her ex-husband is shacking up with a glamorous younger woman who is clearly too young for him. Such a situation is intellectually, emotionally, morally, and spiritually harmful to children as young as Anna and Ben. This makes it hard to start developing any sympathy whatsoever for Luke, not to mention the selfish, at times inconsiderate Isabel. It also gives the whole movie an immoral slant that will probably be strongly distasteful, and rightly so, to anyone properly concerned about the decay of the family in America and other parts of the world.

Both of these things help give STEPMOM a very low rating from MOVIEGUIDE, your family guide to movies and entertainment.

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