Where the Heart Is

 
A chick flick that's as yummy as eating bon-bons.
  • Review Date: July 7, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Characters in peril, two badly injured. Some sad and scary moments, two bad injuries, a sad death.

Sex

Many sexual references, main character is a pregnant teenager, other out of wedlock children.

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A character abuses alcohol and drugs. Another attends AA meetings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language and that Novalee and Lexie have children without being married. Sister Husband prays for forgiveness for "fornication." Women have sex with men who abandon them. One character has sex with someone who has suffered a loss, and the implication is that this is a form of comfort. A character abuses drugs and alcohol, and three others are alcoholics (two recovering). One character is killed, and two others are badly injured. A man attempts to molest two children (off-screen).

What's the story?

WHERE THE HEART IS stars Natalie Portman as Novalee Nation, a pregnant 17-year-old abandoned at a Wal-Mart by her boyfriend. She moves into the Wal-Mart, keeping careful track of everything she takes, and becomes something of a sensation when she ends up having the baby in the Wal-Mart. Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), a dotty but affectionate recovering alcoholic, takes her in. Novalee makes two other friends -- Lexie (Ashley Judd), a kind-hearted nurse who is always looking for Mr. Right but finding herself pregnant instead, and Forney (James Frain) a brilliant librarian with a sad secret. Novalee and her friends cope with tragedy and learn to "let go of what's gone and hold on like hell to what they've got." They acknowledge the sadness and unfairness and meanness in life, but they "hold on to the goodness and pass it on." Novalee and Lexie must also learn that they deserve to be loved and cared for.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

You don't have to ask where the heart is in this movie – it's all heart. All of the elements are there -- a plucky heroine with adversity to overcome; a love interest who is cute, patient, and endlessly devoted, and who completely adores the heroine's daughter; an abashed ex-love interest to realize the error of his ways; and an assortment of women friends, also endlessly devoted, to support and be supported, and everyone just as colorful and quirky as can be.

This movie is worth seeing just to watch five of the finest actresses in movies. Natalie Portman is radiant as Novalee, and it is a pleasure to see her bloom before our eyes. Ashley Judd is delicious as Lexie, explaining that she named her children after snack foods and getting excited about each new husband prospect. And then she is heart-wrenching when she must deal with the unthinkable. Joan Cusack is sensational as a music promoter who has seen it all and has no illusions. Sally Fields contributes a magnificent cameo as Novalee's wayward mother. Just the way she smokes a cigarette tells us everything about her life since she left home. And Stockard Channing makes us see how Sister Husband's life may have left her a little addled on minor details, but utterly clear about the important things.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about one character's view that people lie because they are "scared or crazy or just mean," about another character's statement that "home is where they catch you when you fall" and about what makes it possible for some people to survive deprivation and tragedy. They should also talk about what made it difficult for Lexie and Novalee to accept love from good men. And they should talk about the extraordinary kindness the characters show each other, particularly the thoughtful way that Sister Husband invites Novalee and her baby to live with her, making it sound as though Novalee is doing her the favor.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 28, 2000
DVD release date:September 26, 2000
Cast:Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Stockard Channing
Director:Matt Williams
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Drama
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense thematic material, language and sexual content

This review of Where the Heart Is was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byvballglam August 2, 2013
age 13+
 

Great but sad!!

It is a movie I would watch again!!! I loved it but really? how many sad things can they put into one movie. the movie is based upon a pregnant 17 year old who is abandoned by her boyfriend. There is a scene with a tornado and also the scene of an attack although the attack is not shown. one woman has five children, all from different men. There is some mild language like s***. By the end of the movie you see how the baby has affected her life!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byskyrebel August 15, 2010
age 12+
 

Good for Tweens and Older

Quite good. apart from the strong language, this Movie is quite exemplary
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 September 25, 2012
age 8+
 

where the heart is

Families can talk about one character's view that people lie because they are "scared or crazy or just mean," about another character's statement that "home is where they catch you when you fall" and about what makes it possible for some people to survive deprivation and tragedy. They should also talk about what made it difficult for Lexie and Novalee to accept love from good men. And they should talk about the extraordinary kindness the characters show each other, particularly the thoughtful way that Sister Husband invites Novalee and her baby to live with her, making it sound as though Novalee is doing her the favor.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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