By Tammy Ruggles, BSW, MA
Moms come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and from all walks of life–from step moms to at-home moms to working moms. In celebration of Mother’s day, here’s a Hollywood tribute to big-screen motherhood:
Whether your blended family is Disney-delightful or Osbourne-offbeat, you’re bound to find some movies about blended families that will make your eyes roll, your belly laugh, or your heart soar.
So without further adieu, here are some movies with blended families:
Stepmom, starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. Inspiring, witty, idealistic, this movie will make you examine any blended family issues you may have. 1998
The Stepfather, starring Terry O’Quinn. The blended family from hell. Just right for a good scare. Or a good laugh. Perfect for Halloween. 1987.
With Six You Get Egg Roll, with Brian Keith and Doris Day. A classic that needs no introduction. For its day, there was something honest, earnest, innocent, fresh, and hopeful about it. And still is today. 1968.
Yours, Mine, And Ours, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Again, some of the older blended family movies ring as true today as they did when they were made. Some themes are timeless. This movie, like its counterpart With Six You Get Egg Roll, illustrates the simplicity and gravity of the issues in a humorous and meaningful way. 1968.
Domestic Disturbance, starring John Travolta and Vince Vaughn. Your worst nightmare. Although its themes are gritty and cringe-worthy, there is an unblinking undercurrent of realism that blended families will identify with. 2001.
Animals, starring Linnea Quigley and Kathleen Louise in this drama about a family vacation that is savagely interrupted by a gang of roughnecks. Graphic and exploitative, if you like over-the-top violence. 1998.
Lassie, starring Tom Guiry, Helen Slater, Jon Tenney, Frederick Forrest. A young boy must adjust to the changes in his family, and meets a lifelong friend along the way. 1994.
I’m Losing You, with Frank Langella and Rosanna Arquette in this story of a blended dysfunctional family coping with the terminal illness of the patriarch. 1998.
This Boy’s Life, starring Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, Leonardo DiCaprio in this story of a boy trying to adjust to his new stepfather. 1993.
Night Of The Twisters, with John Schneider. Stormy weather on two fronts: Twisters and stepfamilies. (Made-for-TV) 1996.
Radio Flyer, starring Lorraine Bracco, John Heard, Elijah Wood, Adam Baldwin. The story of a blended family whose abusive environment causes two brothers to want to escape any way they can, even if it’s only in their dreams. 1992.
A Summer To Remember, starring James Farentino and Tess Harper. A deaf-mute boy learns to adjust to his new stepfather with the help of an orangutan. (Made-for-TV) 1995.
The Brady Bunch Movie, starring Shelly Long and Gary Cole, may be dismissed as a movie about the too-perfect/unrealistic blended family, but there’s a reason why the bunch’s appeal has endured over the years, and that’s its heart. It portrays blended families the way we want them to be, the way we should be, and there’s never any harm in aspiring to be a better family. For all its laughs and over-reaching themes, there’s still some primal blended-family truths going on here. We’ll call it the blended family’s one guilty fantasy. 1995.
You know who you are and what you do:
If you at-home mothers were paid for all the jobs you do, you’d be making some pretty smart money.
But you do it for free, and you do it for love.
To pay respect to the often-time under-recognized stay-at-home mom, here are some movies featuring some of the best:
Dennis The Menace, starring Joan Plowright as Martha Wilson, Dennis‘ quintessential, endearing at-home mom. 1993.
Jestsons: The Movie: Jane is the perfect space age homemaker to George. 1990.
Pleasantville, starring Joan Allen. In a fairy-tale place where everything’s as perfect as a situation comedy, there’s a stay-at-home mom who’s hard to beat begins to question her pleasant world when two teenagers bring unconventional color and life to town. Also stars William H. Macy and Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels. 1998.
The Stepford Wives, starring Katherine Ross: A science fiction tongue-in-cheek tale of robo-moms that would put Martha Stewart to shame. 1975.
Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp as a lonesome grotesquely beautiful boy with scissors for hands. An outsider at first, he is soon accepted by the ideal neighborhood that has lots of perky homemakers. 1990.
Jeff‘s Collie (Lassie), starring June Lockhart as Jeff’s warm-hearted, understanding mom in the TV series, from 1958 through 1964.
Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery as a half-witchy stay-at-home mom who enjoys cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Darrin and Tabitha. 1964 TV series.
Spencer‘s Mountain, starring Maureen O’Hara as Olivia Spencer as the strong, supportive stay-at-home mother and matriarch. 1963.
Old Yeller, with Dorothy McGuire as Katie Coates, who has to head the household while her husband is away working. She single-handedly manages her two rowdy sons, a rabid yellow dog, and a hungry mooch. 1957.
Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez as a stay-at-home mother who is forced to defend herself against her abusive husband. 2002.
The Bridges Of Madison County, starring Meryl Streep as an at-home mother who goes astray when her husband and children go off on a trip. 1995.
Places In The Heart, starring Sally Field as a homemaker who tries to save her home-place with the help of a few friends. 1984.
In The Bedroom, stars Sissy Spacek as a stay-at-home mother who’s life is touched by tragedy. 2001.
Country, starring Jessica Lange as a farmer’s wife who stands by her husband and their farm as it slips through their fingers. 1984.
The River, with Sissy Spacek as an at-home mom and wife of a farmer who struggles right along with her husband to hang on to their farm. 1984.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, starring Darlene Cates as a sensitively portrayed and pathos-evoking stay-at-home mom whose weight endangers her health. She raises two sons: One is mentally challenged. The other is having an affair with an older woman in town. 1993.
If These Walls Could Talk: An ensemble cast of women, one being a mother of four who despairs over her new pregnancy. 1996.
Your work day is never just 9 to 5. More like 25/8. And you’re sometimes misunderstood. If you work overtime, you’re a driven workaholic who doesn‘t make time for her family. If you take off early to do something with the family, you’re a slacker.
They should make it a national holiday: Working Mother’s Day.
Until then, set aside a day for yourself, when you can unwind with just you and the family. And to help you do this, here are some movies featuring working moms. See which one fits you best:
Baby Boom, starring Diane Keaton as a career woman who suddenly comes into the possession of a baby and has to learn to juggle (or meld) both worlds. 1987.
A Kid For Two Farthings, starring Celia Johnson, Diana Dors: The young son of a hard-working mother believes a magical unicorn can make any dream come true. 1955.
M/Other, starring Tomokazu Miura. A woman newly marred must choose between her career and being a mother to her new stepson. 1999.
Norma Rae, starring Sally Field as a working mother who fights for fair and humane working conditions in an Alabama factory. 1979.
Striptease, starring Demi Moore as a mother who strips to maintain custody of her child. 1996.
Raggedy Man, starring Sissy Spacek, Eric Roberts, Sam Shepard. A single mom who works as a telephone operator causes quite a stir when she starts seeing a new Navy man who breezed into town while on leave. 1981.
One Fine Day, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a divorced architect mother who crosses paths with a divorced newspaper columnist and father, played by George Clooney. 1996.
As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt: A working mother who’s a waitress, and an obsessive-compulsive who’s a novelist, begin a tentative, fragile relationship. 1996,
Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts as a single mom who works as a legal assistant. Together, she and her boss expose a power company who is intentionally poisoning the water supply. 2000.
Kramer vs Kramer, starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in this drama of a working mom who may lose custody of her son to her husband. 1979.
Waiting For Michelangelo, with Renee Coleman: A successful working mom hopes to meet her idea of perfection in a man: He has to look like Michelangelo‘s sculpture, “David“. 1996.
Throb, starring Diana Canova. A working mom takes a job at a record company and eventually strikes up a romance with the owner. 1986.
Goat On Fire And Smiling Fish, with Christa Miller as a single mom who‘s also a postal worker. 1999.
The Good Mother is Diane Keaton, a working mother who finds herself fighting for custody of her daughter in court when her paramour is accused of touching her inappropriately. Also stars Liam Neeson. 1988.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, working mom, step mom, or a blend of all three, you deserve an Oscar for the role of a lifetime.