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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.42%
Worth A Look: 27.88%
Average: 10.58%
Pretty Bad32.69%
Total Crap: 14.42%

7 reviews, 62 user ratings

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Where the Heart Is (2000)
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by EricDSnider

"Where the white trash is."
2 stars

You'd think a film with a title like this would be full of heartfelt sentiments and sweetness, but no. "Where the Heart Is" instead is full of poorly written Hollywood tripe, a coming-of-age story in which yeah, the main character gets older, but she doesn't learn anything.

There's white trash aplenty as Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) starts out in Tennessee in 1995, pregnant and heading to California with her boyfriend, the unshowered and loathsome Willy Jack (Dylan Bruno). While stopped at a Sequoyah, Okla., Wal-Mart so Novalee can use the bathroom, Willy Jack cements his loathsomeness by taking off, leaving her with no money and no place to stay.

So she takes up residence in the Wal-Mart, hiding there when the store closes each night, and making sure to be out of sight again when the employees arrive in the morning. She does this for six weeks, at which point she gives birth and becomes a celebrity -- the "Wal-Mart Mommy."

(If you think it's ridiculous that a person could live in a Wal-Mart for six weeks undetected, this movie is not for you. It is also ridiculous that Novalee is incredibly superstitious about the number five, and that the number five actually proves to be unlucky for her on several occasions, thus giving credence to her irrational fear. It's also ridiculous when a tornado strikes and Novalee is seen holding on to the cellar door with one hand while the wind tries to carry her away, like in the movie "Twister." Ridiculousness is something you're just going to have to put up with if you intend to watch this movie.)

Soon she's friends with a nice hospital nurse named Lexie (Ashley Judd), the five-time unwed mother who makes unwed motherhood seem so darned unsinful (take THAT, you religious nuts, and other people who believe the Bible!). And she's living with local nice lady Thelma Husband (Stockard Channing). And she's being best friends with -- but not falling in love with (yeah, right) -- local librarian/nice guy Forney (James Frain).

Her life is not without hardship, though, you can rest assured. She becomes a professional photographer, but only after literally seconds of buying an old camera and struggling to read a complicated book on the subject, with Forney helping her sound out the tough words. Her precious baby, Americus, even gets kidnapped by some religious zealots, though she is then promptly found, unharmed, in approximately one minute.

Not only do all the conflicts in this movie get resolved pretty fast, but the filmmakers are kind enough to tell us when they're about to happen, too, so we'll know what emotion to feel. Whether it's by the musical score, or by someone saying, "It's OK, I'll be right back" just before heading out into a tornado, we always know when tragedy is about to strike. The audience should just be given a script telling them when to laugh or cry, as that would save the film the trouble of whacking them over the head with it.

We're also treated to a subplot following loathsome Willy Jack's rise to country-music superstardom. This has absolutely, positively NO RELATION WHATSOEVER to the main plot. It does, however, allow us to see the fabulous Joan Cusack as a Nashville music executive, and frankly, any excuse to put Joan Cusack on the screen is fine by me.

Natalie Portman, normally a fine actress, just phones it in here, giving us no insight at all into her character. The same goes double for everyone else. We see their lives in great detail, but learn nothing about what makes them tick. It's a character drama with no characters, and in fact with very little drama.

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originally posted: 07/07/03 12:50:27
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User Comments

11/02/16 Suzanne five great female performances; scratch the ex-boyfriend 4 stars
10/08/07 Deirdre As manipulatively awful as it is extremely bizarre. 1 stars
12/16/06 Treecie Novalie rise above attitude & Forney's firm love kept me thinking after the end of the movi 4 stars
5/07/06 Erica Clarkson What about Tennessee residents, Tiffany? It's set in Oklahoma! 2 stars
12/20/05 cody a very good movie with good story and good actors, sexy natalie portman 4 stars
7/14/05 emily I LOVED this movie...definitely in my top 5. 5 stars
3/28/05 Emma A lovely film. One of my favourites. 5 stars
3/18/05 Tiffany Anderson great movie, although it depects tennessee residents as white trash 4 stars
7/24/04 Toni Any young mother trying to find her way can relate to this movie 5 stars
7/14/04 Jenna Furr Usually abominable A. Judd good here. Natalie P. wasted. Movie on whole is harpy feces. 1 stars
6/05/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne A. Judd plays more likeable char. than Sally Field or Joan Cusack. Armageddon must be near! 2 stars
6/05/04 Audrey Ruiz Ashley Judd's best movie since AMAZON WOMAN FROM URANUS. 1 stars
5/18/04 Richard This film was very educating for children over 12 but not for 2nd graders 1 stars
4/10/04 Teresa I think it is a great movie, explaning how anything could happen. 4 stars
3/26/04 Stephanie I really like the movie i eally enjoyed it! 5 stars
3/05/04 Absolute feel good? Poppycock!! Only someone bout as bad as Osama bin Ladin makes me feel good to see his legs get cut off! 2 stars
2/04/04 Aroha It is a lovely movie! An absolute feel good!!! 5 stars
10/07/03 Marie Persson I just love this movie. 5 stars
7/18/03 Chris O.K. so this isn't oscar material but by itself it's entertaing. Corny but heart-warming. 4 stars
5/30/03 Jenna Furr Usually abominable A. Judd good here. Natalie P. wasted. Movie on whole is harpy feces. 1 stars
2/03/03 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne A. Judd plays more likeable char. than Sally Field or Joan Cusack. Armageddon must be near! 2 stars
1/12/03 Iris Dementia Praecox Yeah Sure, Andrew. If I don't listen to the rednecks, so much for playing this movie! 1 stars
12/10/02 Audrey Ruiz Ashely Judd's best movie since AMAZON WOMAN FROM URANUS. 1 stars
12/03/02 jksfsdkl UG! Natalie Portman is the most overrated actress of the past few years. CRAP! 1 stars
11/28/02 Kelli Strange, but funny 4 stars
10/15/02 amy i liked it 4 stars
10/02/02 Andrew Don't listen to the to the red necks, let yourself be taken on a beautiful ride. 5 stars
9/04/02 The Chronic Mastubator Sappy and dumb. 2 stars
6/27/02 Bada Bing Crosby Ceaselessly stupid and improbable, but Joan Cusack is great in small role 2 stars
6/05/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne A. Judd plays more likeable char. than Sally Field or Joan Cusack. Armageddon must be near! 2 stars
3/31/02 Kacy I loved this movie. It is absolutely one of my favorites...ever! 5 stars
3/26/02 the_newindividual Great movie! 5 stars
3/16/02 Jenny Tullwartz (Joan Cusack fan in mourning) I'd rather eat my sh____(oe??) than watch what Jonn Cusack's reduced to in this. 1 stars
1/27/02 Tiffany Thunderhurst "Ballbuster" plays all sweetness and light. Is there acatch? You bet there is! 2 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick this is one chick flick the flick chick actually liked - a bit long though. 4 stars
1/04/02 Chelsy Kenyon I liked the movie, I had to do a long paper over it. 4 stars
11/26/01 Smoogles Total chick flick ... Portman was great 5 stars
11/12/01 Jon C. Ericson Natalie only thing making this worth a look. 4 stars
9/30/01 Mohammad J. worst movie out there next to 2001 and A.I. 1 stars
9/18/01 Butterbean Glamorous trailer trash and 2hr references to Walmart can be overlooked in this good flick 4 stars
8/24/01 eka saputra i'm only like natalie 4 stars
8/03/01 brian ferrell I really wanted my own web site 5 stars
6/23/01 Mr. X I enjoyed i thoroughly. I almost cried 4 stars
4/29/01 The Jedi Droid Cute..Natelie is good & Stockard Channing & Joan Cusack are great supporting charcters 4 stars
4/16/01 LiL This was fantatic! One of the best movies I've ever seen with great actors 5 stars
4/12/01 Troy A decent moment or two do not a movie make; Cusack was much appreciated, however briefly 3 stars
3/01/01 Robert no 1 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Read the book!!! Read the book!!! Read the book!!! Read the book!!! 3 stars
2/02/01 Bob Barker How many talented actors does this movie have? And it's still stupid!!!! 1 stars
8/21/00 movie chick not much interesting here 3 stars
7/31/00 Ang I thought it was a great movie 5 stars
5/27/00 Jaime N. Christley The book is available at your local Wal-Mart. Avoid it, too. 1 stars
5/19/00 jim boyd good film well acted enjoyable 5 stars
5/13/00 Americus Ashley Judd is my reason for being. & Natalie Portman scores her first good performance 5 stars
5/11/00 Kyle Broflovski "Life's a bitch & then you give birth in Wal-Mart." Whoopy. 3 stars
5/08/00 Mary Ann Surprised the boom mike didn't get star billing and it's own trailer 2 stars
5/05/00 Jessica I've read the book, and i've seen the movie. Both were great! But read the book first. 4 stars
5/01/00 MrShowbiz Portman gives birth in a Wal-Mart... and this 4 alarm hankiefest is all downhil from there. 1 stars
5/01/00 Rose Reuben It's like American Beauty, shows that everyone fucks up. It's about being optimistic. Nice. 4 stars
4/30/00 "Persnickety" this one got real old real quick,,,totally predictable! 2 stars
4/30/00 Malbert Acting was good...story was kind of dumb 3 stars
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  28-Apr-2000 (PG-13)


  31-Aug-2000 (M)

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