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Where the Heart Is (2000)
This Movie hates you.
his movie is shoddy. It took a decent premise and distorted it into a misguided, oversimplified yet somehow horribly contrite and contrived outing that should be left to the bargain bin. The warning signs appear early, as we find Portman's character knocked up by her AGGRESSIVELY distasteful beau, who couldn't be more stereotypical white trash if he wore confederate flag underwear. The audience is clearly supposed to dislike the guy, but the amazing part is how much this movie dislikes him and prevents him from any sort of happiness at every turn. Oh, but it actively dislikes all the other characters as well, and it TRULY despises the audience. Let it be quite clear: Novalee Nation is a Saint. Everyone she meets immediately loves her (not counting her immediate family), she effortlessly balances her job and raising her child with pursuing her love life, and to top it all off, she looks like Natalie Portman without any effort. IN SPITE OF THIS, life hits Novalee and those around her with tragedy after tragedy for no apparent reason other than to bring some life to this limp, monotonous film. Not that any of these tragedies have any IMPACT on Novalee, OH NO. She is a plucky go-getter (who doesn't real go-get anything) who just plows on and lives her puny little life as if we're supposed to care. The most laughable example of the moronic melodrama she's put through is the tornado scene, which is drawn out far too long and features the worst CGI tornado in recent memory. The 'disaster' serves no real purpose other than to give one character an off-screen death and show off Novalee's impressive upper arm strength. I don't really blame Portman for any of this, I blame the insipid writing, amateurish directing and horrendous editing. As this film approaches the two hour mark (an hour and a half too long, if you ask me), it hits a cacophony of barely related scenes that never congeal to form a coherent picture. Portman is just stuck in this perfect storm of agony and makes due. The only inspiration evident in this film is the beginning, where Novalee is stranded at a Wal-Mart by her baby's daddy (can you GET more classy?), and must scavenge for supplies in the untamed aisles of the store. Its a fun for a little while, but it all comes crashing to a halt with the delivery of her child, "AMERICUS" Nation. Why this name was chosen never becomes clear, as it has no significance to anything or anyone beyond inducing a snicker every time its used on screen. Far from an inspiring tale of survival and recovery, Novalee is shown essentially riding on everyone else's coattails and somehow profiting from disaster. These disasters include: Americus being kidnapped by religious fundamentalists for some reason (she turns up fine within minutes), Novalee's best friend beaten, and her daughter raped (both recover just fine, and the friend ends up marrying a guy later on), and her pseudo-boyfriend's sister's death, which is arguably an good thing and somehow ends up in a romantic tryst in a motel room. Sprinkled amid this tragedy salad are stale croûtons depicting the scuzzy impregnator who abandoned Novalee as he raises to meteoric heights as a country music singer (which isn't saying much) only to crash down again for no apparent reason. The ending to his (unnecessary) saga must be seen to be believed. His legs are cut off by a train and he ends up in a hospital where Novalee shows up and forgives him, then he's never heard from again. THERE, I saved you the pain of seeing it for yourself. Aside from being ridiculous, none of this has ANY bearing on the story other than to have somebody ELSE to dump tragedy upon.
Ugh, I could mention the laughably stilted "romance" between Novalee and and James Frain, which spends most of the movie going NOWHERE and when it finally gets where it was going, you wish it would go back where it came from. All the side characters are either despicable pricks or angelic saints, and the only way to tell them apart are whether they are nice to Novalee or not. None of these characters are deep, they have no background, no purpose, and most of them aren't likable. It is bad, VERY bad when you're laughing at the pain a character is experiencing.
I really could go on, but I can hardly bear the strain. This movie has no moral, no direction, no purpose to the goings on. It has bright patches but they are so few and far between its like they don't exist at all. Characters come and go and the whole film is literally DROWNING in melodrama. If you like Natalie Portman, you MIGHT be able to bear this cross with a straight face, but I'm pretty sure viewing this movie is considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Out of respect for yourself, your loved ones, and for decent movies everywhere, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE.
Haven't I seen this film before?
Oh thats right, I have.
Lets see. Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Van Wilder, American Pie, Beta House, Accepted... ETC. ETC. ETC.
Whats the difference between those movies and "College?" The others managed to come up with more creative titles. Oh, and "Animal House" had John Belushi.
Seriously, if you've seen any of the above movies, then you've seen "College." The original ideas in "College" are so few and far between that you'll have to wonder if the creators of "College" actually bothered to write a script, or rather spun a wheel of clichés and inserted them in the appropriate spots. "College" once again tries to tell you what life on a University campus is 'supposed' to be like, and fails pretty horribly. You begin to wonder if the 'College' students in "College" are actually paying attendants of Fieldmont University (F.U! Get it? hah...no.) or they just happen to squat in the decrepit house near the campus. Apparently they don't attend classes, don't even OWN textbooks, and believe a GPA is a "Great Party Area" rated on a 0-4 scale.
Long story short, "College," while it claims it has something different than those other "College" films, is NOTHING you haven't seen done much better before. I hope it drowns out in its own filth and causes several film companies to go bankrupt, thus ensuring they'll never spit out cookie cutter crud like this.
Drake Bell and Co. deserve MUCH, MUCH better. They do well, but given a better script I would have been more impressed. I'd give it a 1 1/2 just because of their performances, but it won't let me so hey, their loss.
PLEASE, avoid it. You'll thank me later. And tell your friends to avoid it. Thats the only way to stop the cancerous spread