Stepmom & Deep End of the Ocean [Double Feature]
(Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Ed Harris, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: 'Stepmom' is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between two remarkable women: Jackie (Sarandon), a divorced mother of two, and Isabel (Roberts), the career-minded girlfriend of Jackie's ex-husband Luke (Harris), who continually clash over the well-being of Jackie and Luke's children.
But when Jackie and Isabel begin to share maternal duties, they are forced to rise above their mutual hostility for the sake of this family.
'The Deep End Of The Ocean' tells the tale of a seemingly joyous return to a high school reunion that soon becomes every woman's worst nightmare when her son suddenly disappears.
Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a powerful performance as a wife and mother faced with rebuilding her life and family after they've been shockingly torn apart.
Blu-ray Verdict: 'Stepmom' (1998) is the story of a husband and wife with two kids who have fallen out of love, and now the father is getting married to a new, younger woman.
The mother of the kids does everything she can to make her children hate this woman who is going to very soon be a permanent part of their life.
Julia Roberts indeed gives a fine performance as the fiancée of Ed Harris, the husband. She steals your heart in every scene she's in as this young woman who is trying so hard to be exactly what those children want and need.
And in the end, she's searching for acceptance and love from them as much as they are from her. And then there's Susan Sarandon, giving one of her best performances as the mother of the children who wants nothing more than to remove her children from the younger woman completely.
Sarandon's character is horrible - one of the most awful and hateful people in modern movies. She backstabs, she's overly-critical, and for a long time, she finds every chance possible to turn her children against the other woman - yet you cannot help but feel for her.
As nasty as she is, you sympathize with this woman who is having to deal with her children being in the care of a younger, inexperienced woman who is living with her ex-husband.
It's impossible not to understand her character's mourning and confusion. For the first time in her life, this woman is not the only mother in her children's life.
Don't be surprised if you cry - more than once. It's just that good, and that affecting. Truly, this film is one of the better delights of the past few years. Beautiful story, great performances, real emotions.
In 'Deep End of the Ocean' (1999), Beth Cappadora is at a reunion in a hotel when her middle child of three goes missing. At first the search is informal but it grows increasingly frantic and official as they realize that Ben has been taken by somebody.
The family never fully recovers and carry the scars for years. Nine years later the family have moved to Chicago to start a new life. When Beth has a local boy come to the block to cut the grass, she believes that he must be Ben because her looks just like him despite the age.
The police recover Ben but is it fair to take him away from the people Ben now considers his family?
The plot summary gives the impression that this is just a standard weepy that would easily screen on a weekday afternoon. However the presence of a couple of well known names in the cast list suggests that this film will give the subject a more serious approach that acts more as drama than weepy.
Partly the latter is true but not 100%, and the film is still essentially a sort of weepy that has a control of it's emotions and is actually quite stable but not to the point where it is an engaging debate.
The material should be thought provoking but it isn't really. What I thought would be the main thrust of the film was really just mentioned in the final 20 minutes and it was not only obvious that it was coming but it was quite logically dealt with without real emotion - this is not a `Sophie's Choice' situation but something quite lacking.
The start of the film is OK but it deals with the loss too easily and I never got overwhelmed with the emotions the family must feel. Towards the end the film does a good job looking at the effects the whole thing has had on the other son's character but even this lacks an emotional punch.
The cast are good on paper but they seem strangely stilted. Pfeiffer is a good actress who sadly doesn't seem to get as much good work as she gets older. Here she tries hard but can't get across what her character must be feeling inside.
Williams is an OK support for her and does OK. Jackson is quite good and his character became more interesting to me than the return of Ben itself.
Goldberg hangs around but attempts to give her a character through one line of dialogue about her sexuality and security in her job are so out of the blue that I was left wondering where it came from.
Overall this is not a weepy because it aims higher than that and doesn't wrench all the emotion out of every scene to get the audience.
However it doesn't aim high enough or reach the level where it is emotional or thought provoking, the end result being an interesting film that is a notch above the level of daytime TV weepy but not as worthy or moving as it wants to be. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'Stepmom & The Deep End of the Ocean' [Double Feature] [Blu-Ray] is out June 4th, 2019 via Mill Creek Entertainment.