Does anyone know of any good movies where stepfathers are presented in a positive light? It's one of those classic movie cliches: step parents are evil. Reuniting kids with their birth parents is a staple bit of plot. Like, err, The Stepfather, which pretty much defines how Hollywood sees stepdads (both the 1987 and 2009 films). Or 2012, a perfect example of movie stereotyping, where the hero is a loser who's separated from his wife and kids. She's now married to Gordon, a successful cosmetic surgeon, and it's obvious they're a happy family together: the kids are texting him when they're off camping with their dad. Throughout the movie, bad stuff happens to Gordon, and in the end, guess what, the hero and his family end up back together. Gordon's crime is simple - his kids love him, which means he's making them betray their real father, so of course he deserves to die horribly.
There are many more examples of movies with similar themes in the foreground or background: Mrs Doubtfire's another that springs immediately to mind. He misses his kids, so whatever he has to do to be with them, including breaking up his ex's new relationship, is OK. The only real exceptions I can think of are movies where the dad's a psycho, she's started over, and then he gets out of jail and tries to kidnap or kill them. Even then, it's usually mum vs evil dad, and the stepfather turns out to be well-meaning but useless.
Now, for those who don't know me, this is kinda personal. My three kids live with their mum, and they're now being brought up by another guy. And I'm now a stepdad myself, looking after Anna's two kids. All concerned seem to have accepted the situation, but it's a bloody tough one to adjust to, for all of us - kids, parents, and step-parents alike. You just have to deal with it and make it work for the best. I was brought up by a stepdad myself, and we didn't get on for a long time. It's only now that I appreciate just what he went through.
I'm all for Fathers for Justice and the rights of fathers. It's absolutely not right for dads to be denied access to their kids without good cause, and I don't believe it should be presumed that mothers are automatically the better parent when a marriage breaks up. However, the reality of life is that more and more kids are being brought up by step-parents, and many of them are doing a damn good job, often under difficult circumstances. There's no doubt that divorce is a bloody horrible thing to go through, and being separated from your kids sucks, whether it's by mutual consent or as a result of a bitter fight and a court decision. But still, it's easy to forget that you go through this crap because married life already sucked, and starting over is the only way to make life better. The idea is that after the anguish and humiliation, you actually end up with a family that actually works.
It would be a refreshing change to see that reflected in a movie. I'm not after a comedy or some Brady Bunch froth. It doesn't even need to be a movie about the stepdad and kids learning to get on. It would just be nice to see a movie where the stepdad isn't by definition an arsehole, or where the absent dad doesn't inevitably end up getting his kids back (and his ex-wife too). Perhaps something as simple as having the dad and stepdad get on well would suffice.
It would just be nice to see stepdads getting a break once in a while. Is that too much to ask?