Where the Heart Is (2000)



Critic Consensus: Poor script and messy plot undermines the decent cast.

Where the Heart Is Videos

Where the Heart Is Photos

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' aide, Novalee tries to get her life in order for the sake of her expected child, Americus Nation. Based on a novel by Billie Letts, Where the Heart Is also features Keith David, Joan Cusack, Richard Nance, and Heather Kafka. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
PG-13 (for intense thematic material, language, and sexual content)
Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Natalie Portman
as Novalee Nation
Ashley Judd
as Lexie Coop
Sally Field
as Mama Lil
Stockard Channing
as Thelma `Sister' Husband
Joan Cusack
as Ruth Meyers
James Frain
as Forney Hall
Laura House
as Nicki
Mackenzie Fitzgerald
as Americus Nation
Karey Green
as Rhonda
Keith David
as Moses Whitecotten
Dylan Bruno
as Willy Jack Pickens
Mary Ashleigh Green
as Girl in Bathroom
Kinna McInroe
as Wal-Mart Clerk
Richard Jones
as Mr. Sprock
Laura Auldridge
as Wal-Mart Assistant Manager
Margaret Ann Hoard
as Mary Elizabeth Hull
Natalie Pena
as Angela Ortiz
Yvette Diaz
as Rosanna Ortiz
Richard Nance
as Johnny Desoto
Alicia Godwin
as Jolene
Kathryn Esquivel
as Mrs. Ortiz
Todd Lowe
as Troy
John Swasey
as Jerry
Kylie Harmon
as Praline
Cody Linley
as Brownie
Bob Coonrod
as Ernie
Heather Kafka
as Delphia
Rodger Boyce
as Officer Harry
Dennis Letts
as Sheriff
Mark Mathis
as Reporter
J.D. Evermore
as Orderly
Linda Wakeman
as Hospital Receptionist
David Alvarado
as Cellmate
Mark Voges
as Religious Man
Angee Hughes
as Religious Woman
Gabriel Folse
as Policeman No. 2
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Where the Heart Is

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (31)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | July 20, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 25, 2003
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | April 27, 2000
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

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.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

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.

Red Lats
Red Lats

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!!!

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Discussion Forum

Discuss Where the Heart Is on our Movie forum!

News & Features