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Where the Heart Is (2000)



Average Rating: 4.6/10
Reviews Counted: 97
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 63

Poor script and messy plot undermines the decent cast.


Average Rating: 3.7/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 25

Poor script and messy plot undermines the decent cast.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 63,442

My Rating

Movie Info

Pregnant 17-year-old Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) runs away from her Tennessee home toward the bright lights of California, accompanied by her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens (Dylan Bruno). But Willy gets cold feet and abandons her at a Walmart in Sequoyah, OK. Novalee's life savings amount to $5.55, so she moves into the Walmart, sleeping there at night and venturing out during the day. With the help of the eccentric Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), and Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd), a nurses'


Drama, Romance, Comedy

Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel

Sep 26, 2000

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (109) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (63) | DVD (12)

Not possessing much in the way of a character arc, saints are boring to watch and impossible to act.

April 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The scenes feel forced, producing episodic plotting and calling attention to the characters' superficiality.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Where the Heart Is has a screenplay like that, zigging and zagging and wildly careening from one melodramatic development to the next.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Banal and trite where it could have been insightful and emotionally truthful.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie isn't all that much -- it's too cloyingly ramshackle -- but Portman isn't playing down to her character this time around.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Has enough humor and polish to gull you into enjoying its jest-folks fakery. But you may hate yourself in the morning.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A chick flick that's as yummy as eating bon-bons.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

... a great big ol' commercial for the Wal-Mart

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The script, based on a novel by Billie Lett, is sprinkled with phrases meant to be poignant and funny, but sound like repackaged cliches.

July 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

...enjoyable enough.

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

This is as irritating as chick flicks come and it's a real disappointment since Portman's talents are totally wasted.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Unfortunately, the spirited performances (notably Stockard Channing as the benevolent Sister Husband) buckle under the weight of the implausibly overloaded script.

December 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Terrific, grounded performances by Natalie Portman as Novalee and Ms. Judd as Lexie are the saving graces of the movie.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

A rambling but rich examination of both the human spirit and the oft-undiscussed need for a greater community that each of us can plug into.

September 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Entertainment Today
Entertainment Today

Where the heart is trató de abarcar mucho y dar un mensaje demasiado moralista. Pero indudablemente Natalie brilla.

May 25, 2002

The film appears to be one big advertisement for the giant department store Wal-Mart and its trailer park clientele.

April 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Reveals what complex blunderers we all are. Luckily, we are often blessed with friends who help us pick up the pieces.

March 13, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Love, loss, and family. Bring tissues.

September 16, 2001 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card
Hollywood Report Card

So much plot is crammed in, it's like a feature-length soap.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source:

Deceptively hidden beneath the jokes and the novel premise is a surprisingly convincing view of modern community.

March 19, 2001 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel apparently couldn't resist dressing the movie up like a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake with lots of precious, cutesy comic touches.

January 1, 2000
Winnipeg Sun

In taking cheap shots at those of us who don't live in Manhattan, Williams and company undermine the real strengths of their movie.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

The movie is sweet-natured enough, but when its litany of tragedies demands a tougher tone, the script ... fails to deliver the much-needed veracity.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

Audience Reviews for Where the Heart Is

I was close to selling this DVD, but then decided to give it one last gander before goodbye. I'm glad I did cuz this is really quite a sweet movie about redemption and the kindness of strangers. It's Classic Natalie. She's a bit vegan and weird now, but in her salad days (ironic?), she could really bare her heart in her performances. I also dig James Frain (Villefort from "The Count of Monte Cristo) as the lovelorn Forney.
January 30, 2013

Super Reviewer

A feel-good movie where a pretty young pregnant girl (Natalie Portman) gets left at a Walmart in Oklahoma. During the movie, Natalie has to figure out how to have her baby, establish a support network and find a loving partner.
September 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

An all time favourite - still as good 11 years later as the first time I watched it. This really is the ultimate girl movie - good story to it and great cast. This is one of those rare movies where the movie is better than the book. After seeing this, i got it, and I was really bored by it. This movie really bought the story to life and the people they chose to play the characters are perfect. The only thing that constantly bugs me is the artwork - why has Ashley Judd got dark hair when she is blonde in this!!!
November 18, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Willy Jack Pickens: Why does anyone lie? Because we're scared? Or crazy? Or just mean?... There's a million reasons why a person lies... But sometimes, you tell a lie so big... that it changes your whole life... Lie's so big... it makes you think...
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Forney Hall: Do you love me?
    2. Novalee Nation: You are the best friend that I've ever had.
    3. Forney Hall: Just answer me.
    4. Novalee Nation: You delivered my baby.
    5. Forney Hall: Do you love me?
    6. Novalee Nation: No. No, Forney, I don't love you. Not that way.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Sister Husband: That's what the late Brother Husband used to say...
    2. Novalee Nation: Brother Husband... Was he your husband?
    3. Sister Husband: No, he was my brother.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Ruth Meyers: Jesus Christ, another guitar player. What's your name?
    2. Willy Jack Pickens: Willie Jack Pickens.
    3. Ruth Meyers: I bet you didn't even make that up, did you?
    4. Willy Jack Pickens: What?
    5. Ruth Meyers: So, you just carry that guitar around to keep your balance?
    6. Willy Jack Pickens: You want me to play?
    7. Ruth Meyers: What the fuck do you think that I want you to do, call bingo? One tune; your best shot.
    8. Willy Jack Pickens: Well, I wrote this one myself.
    9. Ruth Meyers: I have goosebumps already.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Novalee Nation: I hope we can find a place to live that overlooks the ocean.
    2. Willy Jack Pickens: Hell, Novalee, you can't see the ocean from Bakersfield!
    3. Novalee Nation: Well... well, maybe a pond then.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Novalee Nation: Oh, I got money. The president of Wal-Mart gave me five hundred dollars.
    2. Mama Nell: Why, he's not the father of the baby, is he?
    3. Novalee Nation: No.
    4. Mama Nell: Ah, shit.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
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