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Pass the Tissues:
A Review of "Where the Heart Is"

by Margaret T. Minnick

When a movie has a phrase or a sentence for a title, it is always an awkward moment when one of the characters actually uses the phrase in dialogue. Usually, you are at least a third of the way through the movie by the time it happens. By then, if you like the movie, you can forgive the cheesy awkwardness, groan and then move on.

But in Where the Heart Is, it comes in the second scene. Natalie Portman tells her yucky boyfriend to touch her pregnant stomach to feel the baby moving. In a delightful Easterner's version of a Tennessee accent, she says to him: "Feel right there. That's where the heart is." Groan ... And keep on groaning because this movie ain't gettin' any better, as Portman's character would say.

All that stomach-touching freaks out her boyfriend so much that he abandons Natalie at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma (I can just hear Natalie's upper-crusty Mummy saying "Ohmygawd ... A Wal-Mart in Oklahoma?"). Frankly, after that moment I probably would have left her at the Wal-Mart, too. If she doesn't even know to wait until later in the movie to say the movie's title, then she must be pretty stupid. Not good for much as far as I can tell. Yup, leave her at the Wal-Mart!

Natalie seems to be in a Movies for Oprah's Book Club rut these days. First Anywhere But Here, and now this baloney. I can't wait for her to get out of her whiny young adulthood stage. I realize that, after her monotone, wooden turn in The Phantom Menace (her character could just as well have been played by a robot or, perhaps, been computer-animated -- Exsqueeze me!), she may feel the need to be in films with characters who express emotion. But she is taking it a bit too far. This movie is just one trauma after another: Her boyfriend abandons her, then she lives in a Wal-Mart, then her wayward mother steals her money, then her baby is kidnapped, then her best friend get sucked up in a tornado, then her new best friend gets beat up by her boyfriend, and on and on. Just keep them hankies coming! Along the way she does get some exciting new hairdos, though. That's nothing to cry about.

One of the interesting things about this movie is that Natalie wears really short dresses the whole time she is pregnant. Are they trying to imply that that's how she got into this mess in the first place? I've never seen a real pregnant woman with such shapely legs as that girl. But still, I don't really think there are a ton of mid-thigh length maternity dresses for sale out there. Even at Wal-Mart.

This movie wasn't all bad, though. My favorite thing about it was that Natalie went to the bathroom a lot. I think at least 4 or 5 times. You never see that kind of bathroom action in movies these days! A few times she even ran to the bathroom. Now, that's a level of realism I can appreciate.


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