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What it’s about:

When Jackie (susan Sarandon) receives a cancer diagnosis, Isabel (Julia Roberts) must reconcile her relationship with her, as she’s the ex-wife of her fiancée (Ed Harris). All three adults must learn how to support Jackie and Luke’s young children, Anna and Ben.

Names you might know:

Anna is played by Jena Malone (the Hunger Game movies, Contact), and Ben is played by Liam Aiken (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Road to Perdition).  The film was directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed the Home Alone movies and the first two Harry Potter films, along with many other family classics.

Why it’s worth your time:

On the surface, Stepmom might seem like another late 90s Julia Roberts rom-com, but this holiday-set classic addresses tough topics like blending families and how to cope with grief.

The film can also serve as a kind of road map, pointing out conversations worth having and how to broach tough topics like a terminal illness. A form of cinematherapy, Stepmom is ultimately cathartic, providing an outlet for your bottled-up emotions.

The takeaway:

Stepmom ultimately shows that in times of tragedy, families have to set their differences aside and come together to support each other as well as the children. The film offers a realistic portrayal of the challenges and the complex emotions that arise when parents and their kids prepare to say goodbye to a beloved family member.

Watch it with:

Teens or adults who are supporting an ill family member or recently lost a loved one. With a PG-13 rating, it’s not appropriate for younger kids.

Worth noting:

If you’re caring for a terminally ill family member, this movie will hit close to home, which may be especially triggering. However, if you’re looking for a depiction of your experience, the film may serve as a mirror, reflecting your experience in ways that help you feel less alone.

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