The movies that draw you in…

Some movies are the ones that draw you in, make you change the channel when you see them in the line-up. You know you want to see them even if they’ve already started.

My “suck me in” movies, in no particular order, include these. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the movies on it will make me tune in, every time.

  • Stepmom
  • Apollo 13
  • Independence Day
  • Die Hard
  • Armageddon
  • Twister
  • Steel Magnolias
  • Pretty Woman
  • Tequila Sunrise (don’t judge…)
  • The River
  • August Rush
  • The Competition
  • Continental Divide

But today, when I saw Stepmom in the channel lineup, I couldn’t do it. It hadn’t even started yet, which usually guarantees I’ll be watching that movie! Instead I opted for Bobby Deen’s new show, Not My Mama’s Meals.


Stepmom (Image via

Stepmom tells the story of the evolving relationship between Jackie (Susan Sarandon), a divorced woman with recurrent end stage breast cancer, and her ex-husband’s new finance, Isabel (Julia Roberts.) Jackie was a high-powered NYC editor who quit her job to devote her life to an earth-mother approach to raising her kids. Isabel is a high-powered NYC photographer who believes she can work AND maintain the rigorous schedule Jackie has mapped out for her kids. In the divorce, Jackie got the suburban colonial lifestyle, and her ex, played by Ed Harris, got a NYC loft where he lives with Isabel and, occasionally, his two kids (who go to private school in the city.)

When Jackie’s cancer recurs, resists treatment and turns end stage, she faces theĀ  scary prospect of watching Isabel, of whom she disapproves, raise her two beloved kids. Jackie decides, after a few bumps in the road, to make the transition as peaceful as possible for the good of her two children. Isabel’s ties to the kids get stronger, until she loses her job while trying to keep to the schedule. She sees that while Jackie will always be “mom,” she won’t be there physically for much longer. Isabel begins to focus on what the kids, her finance and Jackie all need, and slowly, the mom, dad, two kids and stepmom become a unit.

Oh, and the story starts at the beginning of the school year and climaxes around…wait for it…Christmas.

It sounds sappy. But surprisingly, it isn’t. I melt as the story builds, at the angst and the growth in all the characters as they learn that nothing is forever and life is all about compromise. Every time.

Just not today. As I feel myself moving closer to my own end stage, I couldn’t relax watching someone else’s. There is so much more I want to do, and now I’m pretty sure I won’t be around long enough to do most of it.

Today, all I could concentrate on was Bobby Deen’s great lower-fat version of his mama’s sweet potato pie. There will be time for me to enjoy the story of Stepmom another day. I hope.

What are the movies you change the channel to watch? And since cancer, which ones have come off your list?

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  1. Beth Falk says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch Terms of Endearment again. Stepmom would undoubtedly be too much for me, as well.

    I’ll usually drop everything for the Godfather movies or anything by the Coen Brothers (which is funny, because if you asked me whether I like violent movies, I’d instinctively say no…hmm).

    • PAS says:

      I don’t think liking “Lord of the Rings” is nerdy at all…but for some reason, try as I might, I cannot sit through any of the Harry Potter series. And FWIW – not a movie, but I was addicted to Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show. I even have a couple of Bejoran ear cuffs. I rack it up to my “weird jewelry phase” – which actually lasted quite a long time. I could do a whole blog about the TV shows one gets addicted to in the chemo room: Gilmore Girls, Holmes on Homes, Househounters International, No Reservations, NCIS.
      I haven’t seen “50/50″ yet, either – not because I think the cancer theme will weird me out, but because I just haven’t gotten around to it. And I LOVE “Fried Green Tomatoes.” And “The Color Purple.” Very old movies – not so much anymore – but I do love GWTW.
      For those of you who’ve been avoiding “Stepmom,” someday have some friends over, make a good strong pot of (coffee, tea, cocoa – your choice) and a lot of popcorn and watch it. Please. It’s not about dying. It’s about accepting that life moves on…and although I know that’s hard for some of us to accept, it’s about acceptance, about recognizing that none of us goes through this alone, about understanding that all of us needs a village to help us raise our kids, live our lives, accomplish our dreams. It’s not a sad movie – it’s a celebration of the intertwining and interconnectedness of all of our lives. Mostly, when I watch it, I do it with a sense of peace and “all’s right with the world.”
      And speaking of a movie that gives me a sense of peace and world order…when I want a boost, I watch me some “Working Girl.” I see the 80s set against the backdrop of the NYC working girl, in a world where the WTC towers are still standing and someone who is persistent and talented and does her best can get where she needs to go (and can get Harrison Ford in the bargain!) And that reassures me that there is good karma in this world. ;)

  2. Kimi says:

    I can’t watch any cancer movies at all. Not a one. Not even the newest one that was supposed tobe great. It stirs up waaaaay too much anger at my situation.

  3. Kim says:

    Call me a nerd but I LOVE The Lord of the Rings. (It is OK to laugh ;)) I am currently going through treatment for stage 3c rectal cancer with a toddler. There is no way I would even glance at the move Stepmom.

    My strongest thoughts as you enter into this next phase of your long journey. Thank you for for all that you have done.

  4. Belle Piazza says:

    Steel Magnolia’s is always good as is Fried Green Tomatoes. Some of my old time all time favorites are The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and Casablanca. Forest Gump always sucks me in too.

    Strangely, I also really like The Shining – which is odd for me since I usually hate horror films. But the performances are so good it sucks me in every time.

    Awhile back I asked a friend of mine who is now in her early 70’s if the thought of death becomes easier to accept the older you get. She said not really. She said at every stage of her life there is always something more she wants to do. First it was to raise her children; now it’s to be with her grandchildren. She said it’s always something. I guess that’s a good sign that you have (and continue) to live a full and active life.