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Where the Heart Is (2000)
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Review Date: April 21, 2000
Director: Matt Williams
Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Producers: M. Williams, P. Whitcher, D. McFadzean
Actors:
Natalie Portman
Ashley Judd
James Frain
Plot:
An uneducated Southern teen, abandoned by her mom, gets dumped once again, this time by her dumbass boyfriend, at a local Wal-Mart, barefoot and pregnant. The resourceful girl manages to live inside the market for about six weeks, ends up delivering the baby at the store and must ultimately learn to survive despite the cavalcade of obstacles which continue to be thrown her way.
Critique:
The white-trash feel good hit of the year! Harumph...okay seriously, although many will ultimately dismiss this film as the grand-daddy TV movie of the week, I enjoyed much of it based solely on the excellent performances put forth by five great actresses. Natalie Portman, leaving Queen Amidala in the dust, with a subdued performance, just begging people to love her even more than they do now. Ashley Judd, looking sexy without even trying, with a great supporting role as the surrogate big sister to Portman, a woman who probably needs more help than anyone in this film. Stockard Channing, Rizzo to me always, with not a whole lot of time on the screen, but certainly a lot of punch in her few moments. Joan Cusack, a woman who can't help but deliver great performances one after the other, with another cool and funny character, not as goofy as usual, but entertaining just the same. And Sally Field, a woman who spends no more than five minutes in this film, with a dead-on manifestation of the ultimate white-trash mommy dearest. And the men you may ask?

Well, it's probably better if you didn't ask, since the world in which these women live apparently doesn't provide for many decent men. That is, if you don't count the old man who boinks Ms. Channing on the kitchen table every now and again. Granted, the film certainly does play out like the ultimate soap opera, but in the end, nothing really bored me. I had a few laughs here and there, shed a couple of internal "guy-tears", yessiree-bobee, and golly gee, who the heck wouldn't want to watch these two beautiful leading ladies prance around the big screen all day long. I know I sure wouldn't mind. And is it just me, or did Natalie Portman actually start looking like Ashley Judd in a few choice scenes? But enough about that. In the end, most anyone should be appreciative as to the sentiments which carry Portman's character through the tough times, learning as she goes along and ultimately making the best out of what she's been handed. It certainly is a triumph of the spirit (am I quoting Oprah now?).

So piss on me all you want if you think I am recommending this film solely on the extreme appeal of the actresses, but there are many reasons why some movies work and others don't, and a lot of it has to do with the performances. This one nails that door down shut, whilst also providing us with a touch of humor, a touch of drama, and a touch of love. Of course, I also thought Natalie Portman looked kinda sexy while she was preggers, but that's a subject which only my psychiatrist can explain. Either way, I'm a sick man but the film is still charming. You go, girl!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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