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Where the Heart Is

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Where the Heart Is

Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd
Director: Matt Williams
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: April 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Stockard Channing, Dylan Bruno, Keith David, Jim Beaver, Joan Cusack

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  MrBrown read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Attention, Wal-Mart Shoppers! Princess Amidala's been sleeping in your store. Well, not exactly, but in this chick's flick Natalie Portman plays a poor, pregnant 17 year-old named Novalee Nation who moves into an Oklahoma Wal-Mart when her wannabe musician/boyfriend, Willie Jack Pickens (Dylan Bruno), abandons her. In the discount chain-store, she finds everything she needs. She sleeps in a sleeping bag on a fake lawn, bathes in the bathroom, and keeps careful record of everything she's used so she can pay it back some day. And when her daughter, Americus, is born she's celebrated in the media as "the Wall-Mart Baby." Intrigued by her celebrity, Novalee's dysfunctional mother (Sally Field) appears and makes off with some cash. So what's the girl gonna do? Like the Beatles' song - she gets a little help from her friends. Like a perpetually pregnant maternity nurse (Ashley Judd), who become her best-friend, and a nurturing surrogate-mother (Stockard Channing). Novalee even finds a fella, a shy, gentle librarian (James Frain), and an empowering career as a photographer. But then Willie Jack resurfaces as country singer Billy Shadow, now the protege of a Nashville agent (Joan Cusack). Based on Billie Letts' 1996 best-seller, adapted for the screen by Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel, and directed by Matt Williams (TV's "Roseanne," "Home Improvement"), this episodic story of love and the meaning of family unfolds in a relentlessly likable, sudsy soap opera style. While Natalie Portman is obviously a sophisticated, refined and talented actress, she's woefully miscast as raw Southern trash, which is the way her role is described. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Where the Heart Is" is a sweetly banal, schmaltzy 5, just the number that Novalee considers ominous.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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