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.
- Apollo 13
- Independence Day
- Die Hard
- 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 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 the 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?