on July 3, 2004
This is simply a very pleasant movie to watch. You love all the characters immediately. It has humor, despair, love, tragedy and unrequited love. Stockard Channing is fantastic in her roll as is Ashley Judd. You must watch this film and I guarantee you will feel good when it is over. I gave this movie 5 stars because it is such an entertaining film. You don't have to close your eyes or grab your ears once throughout the whole thing. A very pleasant change. You'll love the method Ashley Judd uses to come up with names for her children. Try this movie.
on June 30, 2004
I originally rented this video as part of my Natalie Portman marathon session. I didn't care or expect this to be a good movie. However, as I started to watch it, I started to lose focus of Natalie and get enveloped by the enormity of the plot's attention to detail.
Natalie and macho-stupid-everyman decide to move to California from TN. As they are going along, Natalie asks for some money to get some stuff in Wal Mart. When she returns, her boyfriend (and sperm-father of her fetus) is gone. His uncaring decision ignites an extended session of events.
First, Natalie intuits that she must stay in Wal Mart because of her superstitious opposition to the number five. She figures out a method to sleep in the store overnight. Any reasonable person would know this is not possible in reality, but I guess we can let movies have some creative license.
She ends up popping out her kid in the Wal Mart late at night with the unknown help of Forny crashing himself through plate-glass to help her (we are still trying to figure out how he knew she needed his help). She comes to and is told what happened and that she is a tv celebrity because of delivering the kid at Wal Mart. She even get $500 from the CEO of Wal Mart, plus a lifetime guarantee of employment at any Wal Mart due to the enormous positive advertising she gave the chain.
Most of the remainder of the movie deals with everyday life events raising the kid (Americus). One small event that displays the attnetion to detail of this movie is the part of the overly-literal right-wing nuts from Mississippi, who come there and temporarily steal the baby only to have second thoughts before deciding to just build a Jesus display on the lawn while saying that delivering kids outside of marriage is an abomination of God.
It's hard for me to verbalize how good this movie is. Some excellence is not to be conveyed through words. This is one of those movies you need to see for yourself while allowing the emotions to caress you to their maximum effect. Enjoy!
on October 18, 2003
This film was an extraordinarily wonderful surprise. The writing was excellent, managing a perfect balance throughout between tear-jerking scenes and comedic moments. Every time it teetered close to the edge of cliche, it pulled back to safety and perfection.
The performances by Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd and Stockard Channing were phenomenal. This film had me crying rivers, laughing, and clapping. It left me feeling better than I had felt after the last 10 movies I'd seen combined. It is also exceptional for how unlike other Hollywood movies it is; it tells a story about women with a truthfulness and reality that would not even have been possible to get put on film even a couple decades ago. Indeed, it's still a remarkable abberation.
I can't recommend this film too strongly. For anyone with a heart, buy it and treasure it.
on October 9, 2003
It's not that I didn't enjoy this film, but after finishing the book, I'd have to say that people who've seen the movie and haven't read the book have lucked out. I've never read such a heart-warming story that really makes you think about life and how much there is to appreciate. But, after I read the book I was curious as to how the movie measured up, and I'm sorry to say that the movie didn't. The book has so much more going for it and really explains what goes on, not to mention, things that seem almost and completely different from the movie. For an example, in the book there's a tragedy involving the local library, and the movie, well, nothing remotely compared to that happened. The movie ended differently than I had expected, because there were key points left out that were in the book and not in the movie.
So please, read the book! You will not be disappointed. It's wonderful.
on September 20, 2002
I was SO disappointed with this movie. The only saving graces are Ashley Judd and the actor who portrays Forney Hull, whose name currently escapes me. The ENTIRE charm of this book are the characters and the way their lives become intertwined. The movie barely touches on this aspect of the book, and where the book literally evokes emotions from the reader, the movie fails miserably. The lines are so stilted. The scenes are so chopped up and so many characters in the book missing or undeveloped, it's hard to follow. On the one hand, if you read the book, you can follow the movie a little better. Had I seen this movie cold without having read the book, I would have thought it hard to follow. However, if you read the book first, the movie is such a disappointment. The casting of the actor who portrayed Moses Whitecotton was excellent, but they hardly touched on the depth of his character, which was such a waste. Ashley Judd did a great job as Lexie Coop, and Natalie Portman, although quite cute, came nowhere near to exuding the charm and innocence of Novalee Nation personality-wise. Stockard Channing has SO much talent, but as Sister Husband, Hollywood cut the soul of the character as portrayed in the book down to just about nothing in the flick. The book warmed your heart and soul, made you angry, made you cheer out loud, made you cry. It left you wanting for more. Then Hollywood got hold of the story and trashed it.
on September 23, 2000
This film is awful, the kind of botch-up portrait of "small town" life that only Hollywood can churn out. Natalie Portman looks like she's fourteen. The first half hour plays like a commercial for Wal-Mart. The most inane subplot of the year in which the a**hole boyfriend tries to make it as a sangin' star. Horrible misuse of the wonderful Joan Cusack--this should be a hanging crime, friends. Worst of all, there doesn't really seem to be much of a relationship between Natalie Portman and her daughter... every note rings false in this movie. I hated it. After this and Diane Keaton's awful "Hanging Up", guys have every reason to be wary of so-called "Chick Flicks".
on February 18, 2004
20th Century Fox's "Where The Heart Is" Released in 2000, Directed by Matt Williams, is a stereotypical drama with a predictable theme and a standard 'Chick-Flick' plot. The dramatic theme of this movie is one of improving one's self, no matter what your beginnings or how hard life challenges you. The main character, Nova Lee Nation (portrayed by Natalie Portman), exemplifies this triumphant spirit by starting the movie as a young pregnant trailer queen moving with her boyfriend to California. She is then pushed to her lowest point when she is abandoned at a Wal-Mart in Sequoia, Oklahoma. In an odd twist it is at this Wal-Mart that she is introduced to Sister Husband (Stockard Channing) who is later an important figure in her life.
With no place to live, Nova Lee lives in the local Wal-Mart where she eventually has her child. This event gives her her 15 minutes of fame as the mother of "The Wal-Mart Baby". While recovering in the hospital she meets her new best friend (played by Ashley Judd). When released from the hospital, she finds herself, again, without a place to stay. This is when Sister Husband really comes to the rescue.
Sister Husband takes in Nova Lee and her new child named Americus. Things seem to be going well for everyone until a tornado hits the small Oklahoma town. Sister Husband is killed in the tornado and it would again seem as though Nova Lee is stranded. We soon find out, though, that Sister has left everything to Nova Lee in her will. With what Sister Husband left her, Nova Lee is able to build herself a "Home Without Wheels" as Nova Lee calls it.
Before long, Nova Lee decides that she is capable of much more than a Wal-Mart cashier. She begins a photography career and is astonishingly good at it. Even with her new found fortune and success, Nova Lee feels herself unworthy of the town librarian, the man she loves. Because she feels insecure, she sends away the man of her dreams. Predictably, though, she is brought to her senses by her best friends word's and rushes cross-country to reclaim her beau.
I give this move 3 out of 5 stars. The plot is quite predictable, and none of the intended twists are truly surprising. The acting in this
movie is done well and there is enough humor and irony to keep a person interested, though.
on September 15, 2003
First of all, to anyone who loved this movie: please, please read Billie Letts' book. Not to keep the book vs. movie debate going or anything . . . The scenes are described beautifully, and you really feel the charcters much more than you can from the screen version.
One question: why did they change Novalee's bad luck number to 5? HUH??! There were a few liberties taken with the plot, such as the omission of Benny Goodluck and Moses's wife, Certain. They really helped to flesh out the story.
A MAJOR complaint about the character of Lexie Coop: Why, oh why did they case Ashley Judd as Lexie? I admit, Judd did a nice job and seemed to understand the role. But the Lexie in the book is very overweight and not the most attractive lady ever. What she IS is a great lady and the mother of some beautiful children. It seems like the director "prettied up" Lexie's character by casting Judd, easily a size 4. Why?!
All in all, a nice movie to watch, but if you want to know the real story, pick up the book.
on June 30, 2003
"Where the Heart Is" contains probably the most plot twists ever crammed into one five-year span in history.
The movie follows the life of Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman), beginning when she's abandoned by her worthless boyfriend Willy Jack (Dylan Bruno) at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma when they had been on their way to California to start a life together. Novalee finds herself broke and pregnant, near ready to deliver at any moment, and having to live in the Wal-Mart until she receives notoriety as the mother of the Wal-Mart baby. While at the Wal-Mart, she bonds with Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), a gospel-spouting local prone to "fornicating" frequently with her boyfriend; and in the hospital after delivering her daughter, she finds a best friend in sassy nurse Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd).
Essentially the movie rockets its way through one misadventure after another, starting with Novalee losing her shoes through the hole in the floor of Willy Jack's car. When Novalee's daughter, Americus, is born in a hoopla of media attention, Novalee's mother (Sally Field) briefly shows up after abandoning Novalee at age five to relieve Novalee of any money she had at that point; Novalee then is taken in by Sister Husband, and begins to work at the Wal-Mart where she gave birth while studying photography under the tootlage of the Wal-Mart portrait photographer. She also develops a friendship with the man who delivered her baby, the quirky town librarian Forney Hall (James Frain).
Lexie's life is also part of center stage, mostly her miserable love interests who have left her with five children, all named after snack foods. To make matters worse, while the men come and go, each one seems to leave the woman pregnant. Also we witness as Willy Jack spends some time in prison, rises in the music business under the tutelage of a strong manager (Joan Cusack), and then plummets eventually into drugs and booze; call it kismet.
During the course of the film, there are births and deaths, physical assault, and even a tornado. At several points the film seems disjointed and even sadly unbelievable in all the things the happen to the characters in just a five-year time span, but in the end it adds to the quirky nature of the film. And the performances by Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd should have earned these ladies Oscar nods. It's light fare even though it deals with some very heavy topics at points. In the end, just a wonderfully quirky slice-of-life type of film.
on June 16, 2003
Where the Heart Is is a touching film about a young girl(Natalie Portman)who finds herself alone, and pregnant after her boyfriend abandons her at a Wal-Mart. With nowhere to go, and only five dollars to live off of, she has no choice but to make a home in the Wal-Mart. Hiding in the bathroom at closing time, and at opening, she spends the last few months of her pregnancy in the store, undetected. After she delivers "The Wal-Mart Baby" she has the help of her new friends to help her get back on her feet. During her journey she learns new things, forms many new friendships and finds out what true love really is. Along the way, she meets Thelma Husband,(Stockard Channing), a recovering alcoholic with a cheery spirit; Forney, the librarian; and Lexi Coop(Ashley Judd). This movie proves that, "Home is where your history begins, and where the heart is."
This film is a very warm movie full of compassion, and is a great Comedy-Drama. This movie may sound like a "Chick Flick", but it really isn't. This movie teaches you a lot of lessons about life, and will indeed bring a smile to your face. Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd give a great performance, with brilliant acting. The plot of the movie is not grim and depressing, it is the exact opposite. The plot is also simple, but still gives out a lot of meaning. Love, laughter and some tears are shown through the plot, but still is smooth going and very easy to understand.
The DVD also has great special features. You can watch the "That's the Beat of a Heart" music video sung by the Warren Brothers featuring Sara Evans, and see the theatrical trailers and TV spots.