A recent Slice weekend movie, The Back-Up Plan stars Jennifer Lopez as Zoe, a woman who has decided to become a single mother via artificial insemination. The very day she learns she’s pregnant with twins, Zoe meets the handsome, cute, attractive Stan (Alex O’Loughlin). Sparks fly. Is it a case of the worst timing ever, or will the twins have a mommy and a daddy?
I loved this movie, and it made me think about my favourite films from this sub-genre. So, here’s my list of the Top 5 single-parent movies (ranked by year).
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Free spirit Joanna (Meryl Streep) is married to New York ad man Ted (Dustin Hoffman) but decides to leave him and their young son Billy (Justin Henry) to find out who she really is and what she wants to do. Hoffman and Henry have a realistic father-son rapport and their relationship is the heart of the movie. Hoffman and Streep both won Oscars and 8-year-old Henry became the youngest Oscar nominee in history (at the time). Kramer vs. Kramer also won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s a total tearjerker and still captivates, right from the start.
Baby Boom (1987)
I love this movie. I will watch it every time it’s on TV, without fail. Is it the ’80s power suits Diane Keaton wears as high-powered business woman J.C. Wiatt, and the picturesque-but-costly Vermont cottage she buys? Or is it Sam Shepard’s sexy veterinarian? Nope — it’s the relationship between J.C. and the toddler she inherits and ends up adopting, Elizabeth. It’s the way J.C. struggles, learns, changes, kicks ass and triumphs. The end is so satisfying, it’s enough to make me use the term girl power.
Bette Midler stars in this remake of Stella Dallas (1937, starring Barbara Stanwyck) as a single mother who ends up having to share the affections of her daughter Jenny (Trini Alvarado) with her rich father, Stephen Dallas (Stephen Collins). What lengths will Stella go to in order to give Jenny a more comfortable life? Talk about capital-d Drama! Stella is one of those movies my friends and I always watched at sleepovers, along with Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Dirty Dancing and, for those who dared to stay up, 9 1/2 Weeks (risqué!).
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
The father-son chemistry between Tom Hanks and his young co-star Ross Malinger allows them to cover all sorts of scenes, from heart-breaking to frustrating. We all know the story: cutie Jonah phones a radio station to tell America that his widowed architect dad Sam needs a new wife. Newspaper editor Annie (Meg Ryan) is drawn to the story and writes a letter to Sam, which Jonah deems his favourite. Score one for the kid! Annie goes to Seattle and as soon as she lays eyes on Sam, you just know they’re going to end up being one happy family.
Erin Brockovich (2000; pictured, top of post, image via IMDB.com)
Julia Roberts won herself an Oscar for smacking gum, baring cleavage and cracking wise as the titular Erin Brockovich, an unemployed single mother of three who talks her way into a job as a legal assistant. She begins investigating a shady case and it snowballs into one of the biggest class action law suits against a multi-billion corporation. True story! And she did all that while taking care of her kids and accepting babysitting help from her cuddly biker neighbour, George (Aaron Eckhart).
That’s my list of the Top 5 single-parent movies. What would be yours? Tell us in the Comments!