Where The Heart Is
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: -2

Watching the road through a gaping floorboard in his old car, Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman), a pregnant 17-year-old, leaves Tennessee with her boyfriend, Willy Jack (Dylan Bruno). But her dreams of having a family are shattered when he abandons her at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma. With $7.77 in her purse, the girl has no place to go, so she hides in the store. For six weeks, she makes Wal-Mart her headquarters, carefully listing the cost of all the products she takes. But when she gives birth in the store, Novalee becomes a media darling. Money, gifts and a promise for a job at Wal-Mart are generously offered as the townspeople embrace this stranger and her baby. Lexie (Ashley Judd), a hospital nurse, befriends the teenager, and Sister Husband (Stockard Channing) invites Novalee to live in her trailer. Forney (James Frain), a college graduate from New England the townfolk consider weird, falls in love with Novalee after he rescues her when she goes into labor. Each quirky, unique character shares a common trait a big heart. WHERE THE HEART IS may not entice husbands and boyfriends, but this feel-good date movie will touch their hearts.

Although likable, the films characters present serious moral flaws. Lexie attracts men like flies to honey, which has resulted in five illegitimate children, and she makes humorous remarks about her many affairs. Before meals, Sister Husband returns thanks and asks Gods forgiveness for the daily fornication she and her live-in boyfriend engage in. Forney crashes through a plate glass window to help Novalee, but a later sex scene between them seems contrived and gratuitous. An evangelical Christian couple are shown as mean-spirited when they write a hate letter to the single mother, then travel to Oklahoma to take the baby. Novalee demonstrates extraordinary compassion which even extends to Willy Jack when he suddenly reappears under tragic circumstances. Alcohol abuse and Willy Jacks drunken brawls in bars and jail are not condoned. Overcoming almost insurmountable odds and generosity of strangers cannot overshadow objectionable language, negative messages and one gratuitous sex scene in WHERE THE HEART IS.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: 20th Century Fox, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035

Crude Language: Many (14) times Mild 9, Moderate 5
Obscene Language: Many (15) times - F-word 1, s-word 9, other 5
Profanity: Many (15) times Regular 12 (J 6, G 4, C-sake 1, J-C 1); Exclamatory 3
Violence: Few times Moderate (man jumps through glass window; woman caught in tornado, drunken brawls, woman bloodies mans nose, train accident; battered womans cuts and bruises)
Sexual Intercourse: Strongly implied once (unmarried couple in bed, nudity implied)
Nudity: None; Near nudity - tight-fitting dresses, couple covered by sheet
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Woman talks about affairs; woman jokes about sex life; reference to sleeping with man just met; remarks about mans virility; woman grabs mans crotch; couple gropes each other
Drug Abuse: Drunkenness shown several times - not condoned; alcoholic confined to bed; woman pops pills; cigarettes, beer drinking
Other: Christian couple portrayed negatively; irreverent prayer; kindness and generosity of strangers; teenager displays compassion; destructiveness of lying
Running Time: 108 minutes (es
Intended Audience: Older teenagers and adults

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