Shakespeare in Love Review





Two stars pound it out in tear-jerking movie


MPAA Rating: PG-13
Rating: *** 1/2

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, Ed Harris
Running Time: 124 minutes

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff

Any moviegoer would be surprised not to find trouble in a movie starring two of Hollywood’s most well-respected actresses (Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts) and a title like Stepmom.

In this case, the trouble starts when two women try to care for the same two young children.

Sarandon stars as Jackie, the biological mother of the two children, Anna and Ben, and the ex-wife of their father, Luke (Ed Harris). Roberts plays Isabel, the new woman in Luke’s life. She also takes on the role of the dreaded stepmother of the two kids — not much of a plot there. 

Nevertheless, that does not detract from the film. It is not any less valuable or attractive when compared to other tear-jerking movies. Between Sarandon and Roberts, there is enough acting magic to make Stepmom one of the most likable films this year.

In One True Thing, Meryl Streep and Renee Zellwegger laughed and cried while coming together to explore their differences. This is what the audience will experience in Stepmom between Sarandon and Roberts.

Roberts is a young and vibrant fashion photographer in a pop-culture world. Sarandon plays your everyday mommy who bakes cookies and knows the kids’ schedules like the back of her hand.

Typical and predictable obstacles occur between the two women as the movie develops into a beautiful family-oriented experience. It makes you look twice at what a mother and a stepmother go through in a divorce. Sarandon and Roberts are brilliant in their own sensuous and bubbly ways.

The cute kids, 12-year-old Anna (Jena Malone) and seven-year-old Ben (Liam Aiken), add innocent humor to the movie. Though it may seem that Sarandon and Roberts are the dynamic duo in the film, the two kids are the real main attractions. 

Both Malone and Aiken portray the typical all-American children whose emotions clash adorably when they face the compounded problems of loving their mother and suffering through the child care of their naïve stepmother.

The movie also digs deep into Sarandon’s depiction of the ‘90s woman trying to keep her children in her own arms. Sarandon is forced to compete with Roberts’ convergence with Luke and the children, and fears that her young ones will see their stepmother as her replacement.

Directed by Chris Columbus, who brought you that other family-oriented film Mrs. Doubtfire, Stepmom allows Sarandon and Roberts to explore their differences while crafting the film into a handful of laughs, tears and strong investments in sensitive and festive dialogue.

Stepmom is a wonderful holiday film that is sure to make you feel good when you leave the theater.

Reach Nimibutr at

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