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Where the Heart Is
Where the Heart Is
Actors: Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Joan Cusack, James Frain
Genres: Comedy, Drama
PG-13     2006     2hr 0min

Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman shine in this offbeat, delicious slice of life about a down-on-her-luck Southern teen. After gaining 15 minutes of fame for giving birth to "The Wal-Mart Baby", Novalee Nation (Portman) be...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Joan Cusack, James Frain
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/17/2006
Original Release Date: 04/28/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 04/28/2000
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 10/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Based upon the book of the same name by Billie Letts, this film was a more than pleasant surprise. It is simply a compelling absorbing, and unusual film. Well directed by television veteran Matt Williams, the movie exudes a certain folksy charm that grabs the viewer from the get go and keeps that viewer enthralled until the final scene.The film centers around Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman), a very pregnant seventeen year old, who, with her boyfriend, lowlife Willy Jack Pickens (Dylan Bruno), pulls up to a Walmart's in Oklahoma where he abandons her. So, with virtually no money, literally barefoot and pregnant, and nowhere to go, she sets up camp in Walmart by night and explores the town by day, making friends with a number of memorable characters.She unexpectedly has her baby at Walmart's, making her into a minor local celebrity. While at the hospital convalescing, she meets a sassy, brassy nurse, Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd), who befriends her. She is showered with gifts and her mother, Mama Lil (Sally Field), a floozie who discovers her daughter's whereabouts courtesy of the media hoopla, pays her a visit. Having abandoned her once before, she is there long enough for Novalee to be abandoned, yet again.Along comes Thelma 'Sister' Husband (Stockard Channing), an eccentric but kindhearted recovering alcoholic who scoops Novalee and her baby up and takes her to her home. This would be the beginning of a whole new life for Novalee, one that would be enriched by the people whom she meets and the experiences, both good and bad, to which she is subjected. It becomes the story of her personal and emotional odyssey, as well as the story and growth of those with whom she most closely interacts. It is a story about life, relationships, responsibilities, love, and the ties that bind. It is also the story of Willy Jack Pickens and the direction his life takes subsequent to his abandonment of Novalee. After some bad breaks, he gets talent agent, Ruth Meyers (Joan Cusack), to sign him on in hope of furthering a musical career. Unlike Novalee, however, he does not take well to the vicissitudes of life and begins a free fall in a downward spiral. His waterloo culminates in a dramatic meeting with Novalee after many years, a meeting that sets her free from her past, free to love the one person who loves her for herself. Natalie Portman delivers her best performance to date. In the role of Novalee, she mixes innocence with wonder at what the world has to offer her. She adds a certain sweetness, poignancy, and determination to the role that translates into a wonderful vulnerability laced with steel. It is this quality that gives Novalee the will to go on when the odds are so against her, and that is just what Natalie Portman conveys to the viewer. Stockard Channing is great as the eccentric and kind Thelma 'Sister' Husband, a woman who never had children of her own but is truly a mother at heart. Nurturing her garden, as well as Novalee and her baby, flowers and plants are not the only things that thrive under her care. A veritable Mother Earth, she is the kind of person who brings out the best in others, and Novalee and her baby are no exception. Stockard Channing, a great, though underrated actress, brings this home to the viewer in spades.Ashley Judd is terrific as the wide eyed, "looking for love in all the wrong places" Lexie. She comes across as sassy and brassy but is really only looking for someone to appreciate her for who she is and not for the sex she has to offer. Judd delivers the nuances that this role demands. James Frain is sensational as the shy, sensitive, and kind Forney Hull, the town librarian's brother who befriends Novalee. He plays the role with such vulnerability and imbues him with such goodness that the viewer cannot help but care deeply for him. It is also almost hard to believe that James Frain is British, as he has an American accent so down pat. Dylan Bruno is perfect as Willie Jack Pickens, the country good old boy who ruins his own life and almost ruins Novalee's. Joan Cusack shows her deft comedic flair in the small, but memorable role of Ruth Meyers, and Sally Field leaves her mark in her cameo role as Novalee's mother. All in all, stellar performances are given by the entire cast. This is a well directed film that should not be missed."
A Five Carat Diamond
Reviewer | 05/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Outstanding performances by Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd highlight "Where The Heart Is," a warm and remarkable film directed by Matt Williams. On their way to California from Tennessee, single and pregnant Novalee Nation (Portman) is abandoned by her boyfriend Willy Jack (Dylan Bruno) at a Wal Mart in Oklahoma. She has no friends, no family and only a few dollars in her pocket. Lost, with no one to turn to and no place to go, she takes up residence in the Wal Mart for the next six weeks, where destiny has placed her for the birth of her daughter. Mercifully, fate brings Forney Hall (James Frain) to her, a young man who lives nearby above the town library with his sister, and he delivers the baby. What follows is a story of very real people who are just trying to live their lives as best they can, seeking the good in themselves as well as others, and striving to hold on to the important things as they sort and sift through all the obstacles life has to throw at them, and does. Throughout her travails, Novalee's life is touched by those in need themselves, beginning with Lexie Coop (Judd), the nurse who befriends her when she needs it most, and "Sister" Husband (wonderfully played by Stockard Channing), who takes her in when she and her newborn baby have nowhere else to go. From the novel by Billie Letts, Williams and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel have presented a truly heartwarming film, told through characters with whom the audience can readily identify and empathize; a story of compassion and love that aptly illustrates the magnanimity of the human spirit, as well as the depths of evil to which it is capable of descending. When Novalee is in the hospital, her mother, Lil, (an uncharacteristic role for Sally Field in a terrific cameo), who had abandoned her when she was five years old, shows up after seeing the story of the "Wal Mart Baby" on television, only to steal from her. In another exacting scene, Lexie tells Novalee of coming home from work early and catching her boyfriend abusing two of her children, a scene which is all the more effective because the crime is not shown; we see only Lexie and her children as she describes what happened. And it is harrowing. Their work here firmly establishes Portman and Judd as two of the finest young actresses in film today; Channing has never been better, while Frain and Bruno must be given credit for adding so much to this worthy endeavor, as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Joan Cusack (Ruth Meyers), Keith David (Moses) and Richard Jones (Mr. Sprock). A great story and first-rate performances all around make "Where The Heart Is" an unforgettable film that will stay with you, in your heart and in your soul, for a long, long time."
I am very surprised. | 02/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is one of those films that you pick up from the store when there is nothing else to rent ... and you are glad you did.While the plot sounds really contrived, the actors and actresses in this film make it almost believable. And, it is one of the most heartwarming, feel good movies I have seen in quite some time.Natalie Portman is excellent as Novalee Nation, the girl who has the Walmart baby. While you know what is going to happen, the actions leading up to the moment are a gem. Keeping a very exacting record of what she owes the Walmart adds to the situation, making you like Novalee even more.Of course, this is a film about the downtrodden. Novalee is in her situation due to her no good boyfriend dumping her on his way to a Country Music career. The rest of the characters in the film share in this misery. From Forney Hall, a brilliant dreamer stuck in a library to Sister Husband (Stockhard Channing), who fornicates a lot, and finally Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd), who has too many children by bad men, the humanity of the "lower rungs" of society shines through.Contrasted to the majority of films that highlight lower income families, displaying them as criminal victims, this film is refreshing in its humanity. The only weak point is the love story that between Novalee and Forney. Throughout most of the movie it is not much more than a convenient plot device. At some times, it is downright distracting. However, in the end, it show the difference between Novalee and her ex-boyfriend.If you would like to see a film that will make you feel good about America, this is it. At times it is a bit Pollyannic, but it is a bit more believable."
This Natalie Portman movie is packed with genuine warmth.
Emma Price | Champaign, Illinois | 05/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everybody should go see "Where The Heart Is"! I was totally impressed with this movie, and, being a movie critic myself, I have to say that this film distributes drama, romance, and family to the most extraordinary level. Natalie Portman is Novalee Nation, a seventeen-yearold girl who is abandoned by her trashy boyfriend at an Oklahoma Wal-Mart. Novalee, who is seven months pregnant, has no where to go. She lives in the store for six weeks and even has her baby there. As Novalee settles into the town, she learns a lot of lessons in love and she comes to terms with herself and shows excessive love toward her daughter, Americus. An excellent supporting cast, a good, solid script and the perfect combo of laughter and tears make this a definite must-see movie. It's the best movie I have seen since "Good Will Hunting" just can't pass this one up!"