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Where the Heart Is (2000)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  28 April 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 26,132 users   Metascore: 30/100
Reviews: 238 user | 78 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

A pregnant 17-year-old rebuilds her life after being abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma.



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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Karey Green ...
Mary Ashleigh Green ...
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Laura Auldridge ...
Alicia Godwin ...


Novalee Nation is a pregnant 17-year-old from Tennessee heading to California with her boyfriend Willie Jack, but is abandoned by him at a Wal-Mart store in Sequoyah, Oklahoma. Novalee has no job, no skills and only $5.55 in her pocket, so she secretly lives in the Wal-Mart until her daughter Americus is born six weeks later. Novalee decides to raise her daughter and rebuild her life in Sequoyah, with the help of eccentric but kind strangers. Based on the best-selling novel by Billie Letts. Written by Stephen Hughes

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Discover where the emotion is...the friendship is...and the laughter is... See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 April 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Voz do Coração  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,292,939 (USA) (28 April 2000)


$33,771,174 (USA) (1 September 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene where Willy Jack Pickens (Novalee's estranged baby's father) picks up an underage hitchhiker Jolene he ask, "Where are you going"? She responds, "Anywhere but here". This is a nod to Natalie Portman previous movie Anywhere But Here. See more »


In opening scene of this movie it shows them at a trailer in Tellico Plains, TN which is located in Monroe County. Beside the trailer there is a train going by. There is no train track that runs through Tellico Plains, TN. In Monroe County only Sweetwater, Madisonville, and Vonore have train tracks running through their towns. See more »


Novalee Nation: Do i look professional?
Forney Hull: Well you know what'd help?
Novalee Nation: What?
Forney Hull: If you brought your camera
Novalee Nation: SHIT!...
[to Americus]
Novalee Nation: Mommy did'nt say shit!
Americus: Yes she did.
See more »


Referenced in Jersey Girl (2004) See more »


There Are You
Written by Bob DiPiero, Ed Hill and Mark S. Sanders
Performed by Martina McBride
Produced by Martina McBride and Paul Worley
Martina McBride appears courtesy of The RCA Records Label Nashville
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Strong Start That Slowly Fades Away
4 September 2001 | by (Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

For the first 1:15 or so, I was really enjoying this sweet and funny movie about a young girl (Novalee, played by Natalie Portman) dealing with being pregnant and unmarried, who is abandoned by her boyfriend (Dylan Bruno) and takes up residence (unknown to anyone) in a local Wal-Mart. After giving birth to the baby in the store, she is swindled and abandoned by her mother (Sally Field) but survives and flourishes thanks to the kindness of some rather eccentric strangers.

So far, so good. Very enjoyable. But the last 45 minutes or so really unravelled rather quickly. I questioned the need to continually bring us back to Willie Jack's (the baby's father) attempts to get a singing career going. None of his scenes really served to advance the plot in any way, and quite frankly, the guy was a loser who abandoned his pregnant girlfriend. I didn't care what happened to him - even though some of what happened was poetic justice - and the movie could have been shortened by 20 or 30 minutes

  • without losing a thing - if all his scenes had been simply cut. I also

felt that it was totally unnecessary to include (albeit - thankfully - only for a few minutes) a theme about child molestation. Where did that come from and why? It made a relatively enjoyable movie very heavy, and it was a heaviness that - for me at least - never really disappeared. The end of the movie (revolving around the relationship between Novalee and Forney (James Frain) was also telegraphed quite early on.

Having made those criticisms, the real highlight of the movie for me was Natalie Portman as Novalee. I wasn't familiar with this young actress until now, but she was marvellously cast as the sweet, innocent, naive young Novalee, and then showed a wonderful capacity to show her character evolve into a mature and independent young woman. (I have to say that, while the movie seemed to be trying to say she was a great mother, she seemed to spend a lot of time away from little Americus, but that's a minor point.) Portman was excellent, and I will look forward to seeing her again.

This rates a 6/10. Would have been higher, except for the weak second half.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
I love this movie so much, I named my daughter Americus ushi_gushi_head
Did you just fall in love with James Frain by the end of the movie?? iluvmygrls
Something Disturbing exclamatory87
Favorite lines? moonbabyjdk12
'it took me a whole month to loose my baby weight' GreenEyedLady28
Novalee was good but her mother was a peice of work! arielkerr7
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