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stepmom.jpg (7142 bytes)


Starring Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, Ed Harris
Screenplay by Gigi Levangie, Jessie Nelson, Steven Rogers, Karen Leigh Hopkins, Ron Bass
Story on Gigi Levangie
Directed by Chris Columbus
Website: www.sony.com/stepmom

IN SHORT: For fans of Oprah Winfrey's TV show. [Rated PG-13]

Cranky says that because a month ago he stumbled across Oprah to find stars Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon graciously entertaining a group of midlife crisis aged starstruck female fans, all of whom were raving after having seen an advance showing of Stepmom. Oprah knows these are the folk for this flick, which is so wildly unfocussed that any testosterone bearing homosapien will be confused as hell. I can't say that my negative reaction to Stepmom is such that it guarantees a sure fire hit (as with last year's As Good As It Gets) but Cranky sat through this flick not caring a rat's patootie about the events on screen. Stepmom isn't a bad film. It's just not good enough to make (me) care.

Here's the thing about chick flicks; most of the time they're designed to shred the heartstrings and leave the femmes in the audience sitting in puddles. This usually means a horrific death (always long and physically destructive, usually from cancer) and/or the termination of a long time relationship because the guy is a big stinking hunk of number two. That's not the case in Stepmom, where a likable and very rich white guy Luke (Ed Harris) has dumped the mother of his two children, Jackie (Sarandon), for a successful pro fashion photographer, therefore just a step above trophy wife, younger woman Isabel (Roberts). The kidlets (Jena Malone and Liam Aiken), a preteen girl and 7 year old boy love mom, hate stepmom. Stepmom never wanted kids in the first place, but she's doing her best to make friends with 'em 'cuz she really loves very rich white guy. Realmom does everything she can to make stepmom miserable; to show that she is the superior mother (Sarandon's chick does everything but wear the red cape) and at least twice in the flick, the actions are so bitchy and hurtful, Cranky audibly mumbled "I hope you die."

Unfocussed means that the story is not about a war between Realmom and Stepmom for love of the kids. It is not a battle between Realmom and Realdad for possession. It is not a battle between Realkids and Stepmom to try and find that grey area where everybody can get along. It is a story that attempts to be all those things, and still deliver a tear stained happy ending (meaning no deaths on the screen). Five screenwriters all pitched in to pen this thing and you all know the old adage about too many cooks. . .

Fact of the matter is that the first buzz that circulated about this flick put forth the story that it was about a dying mom who selected her successor. But that story floated a long time ago, and isn't even close to what's on screen - - until you hit the very last scene in which peace is made.

Cranky's take: heck, I'm a New Yorker. I look at the obvious wealth in Luke's pockets (a duplex loft in the city, a old money house for the ex up in Westchester); the characterization that he never wanted trouble with his ex, and think the obvious New York thing. Get a mistress. Isabel didn't want kids. Jackie did. It all wraps up perfectly and doesn't leave any reason to make a movie. That's why I don't write movies. I think too much.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Stepmom,he would have paid...


Had it not had the big stars, Stepmom should've been made for a movie of the week on teevee. This flick is definitely for the ladies all of whom can make more sense of it than I.

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