Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. A genuinely affecting movie that approaches its adult themes with intelligence, maturity, and rare authenticity.
  2. 80
    If emotional catharsis is what you seek, Stepmom delivers the goods.
  3. Reviewed by: Ruthe Stein
    A film that's sad and poignant but not without humorous moments.
  4. About as warm, pleasing and inviting as a film about divorce, infidelity and terminal cancer can be.
  5. It may be unfair to ask a film like this not to be shamelessly manipulative, but wouldn't it be nice if audiences could be trusted to feel things more or less on their own without layers of unnecessary hokum entering the picture?
  6. To its credit, the film doesn't sugarcoat its women too monstrously, and it lets real conflicts and opinions occasionally creep in.
  7. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Everything about the film suggests that its makers consider it a deep, emotionally probing drama, but it's merely a soap opera with elevated production values and a sterling cast.
  8. It's not without moments of wit and powerful emotion, but somehow Stepmom never feels either real enough to move us deeply or bubbly enough to make us forget our woes.
  9. Too loud, bright and shallow for its subject: a movie that pushes too many obvious buttons to build naturally to the big, heartbreaking climax it obviously wants.
  10. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    That this is a patchwork quilt of a screenplay (written by five credited writers) is apparent in its use of little bits of this and little bits of that. Did none of them notice, looking at the big picture, that it's unbelievable?
  11. 60
    Less a movie about stepfamilies than a PSA about how cancer makes everyone behave themselves at Christmas.
  12. 60
    In a lumbering way, this depressing feel-good drama about the impact of cancer on two children, their divorced parents, and the father's girlfriend offers some useful insights into how feelings of jealousy and betrayal can limit the potential of family relationships.
  13. 50
    The skill of the actors, who invest their characters with small touches of humanity, is useful in distracting us from the emotional manipulations, but it's like they're brightening separate rooms of a haunted house.
  14. The movie is reasonably smart and touching when it deals with the plight of a family on the rocks, but it pushes too many emotional buttons when the ex-wife is diagnosed with a fatal illness that proceeds to take over the story.
  15. Reviewed by: Hollis Chacona
    These characters are too remote, too pretty, and too unrealistic to move us in any lasting way.
  16. 50
    Loathsome though Stepmom is, the eternally coltish Roberts is always a pleasure to watch and Sarandon's mordant wit occasionally comes to the fore.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A pretty but utterly misleading picture in which cheap sentiment is used to supply easy, false resolutions to agonizing issues.
  18. 50
    Now the mush has taken over, and Columbus has slowed his pace in nervous deference to the solemnity of his plot (not to mention the opulence of his characters' lives).
  19. Reviewed by: Staff(not credited)
    Older and younger movie star snipe and glare at each other with little subtlety, and little chemistry either. The two characters appear to be skirmishing only because they're supposed to by convention.
  20. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    The most impressive thing about it is that the actors manage to sound so earnest while mouthing the most shameless cliches imaginable.
  21. 38
    This is the kind of tearjerker that will cause audience members to cry, but only because they paid hard-earned money to see it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. Aug 1, 2014
    Despite its devious emotionalism and a uninventive plot, the film features some great performances, even by incredibly brilliant Jena Malone and Liam Aiken. A bit clich├ęd, but surprisingly rewarding. Full Review »
  2. Sep 2, 2012
    This was quite a touching movie with great performances from its lead actresses. It was nice to watch the characters have fun at times. Great character building story. Full Review »
  3. Sep 3, 2010
    This one of Julia Roberts better,newer movies. It's not like her take offs of 1940s romance thrillers made in the late 80s and early 90s where the woman would scream"I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME!" at her man. Full Review »