Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Where the Heart Is

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Many sexual references, sexual situation, main character is a pregnant teenager, other out of wedlock children
Alcohol/Drugs:A character abuses alcohol and drugs
Violence/Scariness:Some sad and scary moments, characters in peril, two badly injured, sad death
Diversity Issues:Tolerance of individual differences
Movie Release Date:2000

You don’t have to ask where the heart is in this movie – it’s all heart. As you might expect from a movie based on an Oprah book and starring several of Hollywood’s most talented actresses, this is a chick flick that is as yummy as eating bon-bons in a bubble bath.

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. If you loved Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias, grab some popcorn and a handkerchief and settle in for another juicy classic in that genre. (Why is it, by the way, that these movies always take place in the rural South? Aren’t there ever any colorful and quirky and endlessly devoted people anywhere else?)

Natalie Portman plays 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 store.

Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), a dotty but affectionate recovering alcoholic, takes her in, with the baby. 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 also have to learn to acknowledge that they deserve to be loved and cared for. Lexie finds out that because a man drives a Buick does not make him a winner. The winner is the man who traded a fabulous car to get custody of his stepchild. Novalee learns that she does not have to endure hardship as punishment for her failings, and that she is good enough for the man she loves.

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, casually explaining how she named her children after snack foods and lighting up over 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. 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.

Parents should know that the 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).

Families who see this movie should 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.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias.



Previous Posts

If I Stay
Hamlet asked it best. "To be, or not to be: That is the question." We struggle through, worrying about whether someone likes us or whether we will be accepted at the school of our choice

posted 6:00:09pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
If you want to not just see but hear an eyeball being pulverized, then see "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For."  If you want to see and hear it in the company of an audience who thinks that's

posted 5:59:27pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

When the Game Stands Tall
This dreary assemblage of every possible sports cliché has one thing in common with the game it portrays. Every time it seems to be going somewhere, it stops. More frustratingly, it wastes the opportunity to tell a good story by trying to squeeze in too many great ones. There are too many crises

posted 5:59:00pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Christian Indie Films of 2014
This year has already seen a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented number of Christian and Biblically-based films, from big-budget epics like "Noah" and "Son of God" to small faith-oriented films like "God's Not Dead."  There is an excellent summary of four Christian independent films of 2014 on In

posted 3:59:03pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Frank: The Real Story of the Singer With the Paper-Mache Mask
One of the handsomest men alive spends almost the entire movie wearing a huge round paper maché head in "Frank," a moving film inspired by the real-life story of the late Frank Sidebottom.  Michael Fassbender plays Frank, a sweet-natured but very quirky musician who wears his big head mask even in

posted 9:10:16am Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.