January 11, 1999 12:00 PM

Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, Ed Harris

If it didn’t star the potent combo of Roberts (see page 94) and Sarandon and provide a few modest laughs early on, one might easily mistake the saccharine Stepmom for a family therapy training film. Why, it wants to know, can’t we all just get along?

Roberts plays the Manhattan-based, glamorous photographer girlfriend of Harris, a divorced dad with two kids. Sarandon is Harris’s ex-wife, a suburban supermom. These two gals loathe each other until fate forces a wary reconciliation. (Hint: Hospital stays are involved.) Although both actresses toil hard to ground the film’s soap-opera story in the minutiae of daily life (school, car rides, meals), Stepmom plays just this side of icky, pulling at the heartstrings as if hitched to a Mack truck. (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Mommy teariest

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