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Where the Heart Is

A movie directed by Matt Williams

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Where the Heart Is: Surprisingly Good

  • May 13, 2000
Pros: chick flick, uplifting, good acting, nice cinematography

Cons: chick flick, silly numerology, one out-of-place scene, predictable

I am one of the first to complain that a movie or song is "too sappy" or "cheesy." So, I wasn't expecting to like, "Where the Heart Is" since it was branded "a chick flick." The movie WAS a chick flick (I wouldn't recommend it for young men) but it was original and heart-warming.

The premise of the movie is that Novalee, a pregnant teen, is traveling with her boyfriend to California. They stop at a Wal-Mart so she can use the bathroom and her boyfriend drives off and leaves her. With no money and no place to go, Novalee ends up living in the Wal-Mart for six weeks until she goes into labor. After that, she becomes a local celebrity for a couple of days, but everyone forgets about her and "the Wal-Mart baby" and she is back to having nowhere to live. She is taken in by a local middle-aged woman and her boyfriend. The movie follows Novalee's life (and to a lesser extent, the father of her baby) for the next five years.

The acting is great. Natalie Portman does a wonderful job as a young, poor, Southern girl (Novalee) and Ashley Judd had a surprising strong performance, as well. The actor who plays Novalee's friend, a small-town librarian who has to care for his crippled sister seems like a promising new actor, as well. The actor who plays Novalee's no-good boyfriend is perfect for the roll and Joan Cusack and Sally Field are fabulous, as usual.

I also liked the fact that this movie addresses a lot of complex themes about economic disparity, child and spousal abuse, pregnancy, etc. It somehow avoided being cliched. It has a good message that women should look beyond men's physical appearance and focus more on their personalities and caring nature. In most movies like this, women end up with extremely handsome men who usually turn out to be miraculously sweet, as well.

A couple of things I didn't like about the movie: It focused too much on numerology and the fact that the number five was bad luck for Novalee. One scene with the librarian "Forny" seemed inappropriate based on what was going on in the plot at that point. (I don't want to give too much away.) Also, a couple of the characters were too perfect. Novalee and Forny are almost saints. The movie was slightly predictable, but movies of this type usually are.

Overall, this movie is worth seeing. One note: even though it is only PG-13, this movie is not for kids due to innuendo and adult themes. There is no outright sex or violence or profanity.


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Becky ()
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About this movie


A lighthearted drama about finding your place in the world under the most unlikely circumstances, WHERE THE HEART IS stars Natalie Portman as Novalee Nation, a pregnant young girl who is running away to California with her boyfriend, an aspiring country singer. When he abandons her at an Oklahoma Wal-Mart, Novalee has no choice but to stay behind. She lives in the Wal-Mart until the baby comes, and the resulting birth turns her into a celebrity. As the years go by, Novalee continues to live in the small town, and eventually finds herself falling in love with the kindhearted local librarian.
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Cast: Sally Field
Director: Matt Williams
Release Date: 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (April 21, 2009)
Runtime: 2hr 0min
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