Where the Heart Is
If this film isn't the world's biggest advertisement for a government-subsidized "free birth control" program specific to the state of Oklahoma, I don't know what is. Why is rampant, unwanted pregnancy funny to novelist Billie Letts? Probably because there's a pitiful irony in the right-wing attitudes of a state that simultaneously refuses to teach women about the benefits of birth control, condemns pregnancy out of wedlock, and mercilessly decimates programs that benefit the poor. Keep them poor folk popping out all those babies, and they'll never move up the economic ladder and cause real trouble.
Novalee Nation's (Natalie Portman) friend Lexie (Ashley Judd) is having so many damn kids she has to marry a short, fat bald man -- and she still gets pregnant by him. Incidentally, Lexie names her kids after snack foods, which is really just hilarious until you realize that's probably all they will ever eat. For her part, Novalee is also pregnant, carrying the baby of the idiotic, self-centered Willy Jack Pickens (Dylan Bruno), who abandons her at a Wal-Mart.
We're supposed to care whether Novalee and Lexie find happiness, when we're really just hoping they find the brains to head to a clinic and get those tubes tied. Novalee develops a friendship with the town librarian's brother, Forney (James Frain), who's referred to as such because his sister, the librarian, is drinking herself to death and requires constant attention. This is all after Novalee has her baby in the Wal-Mart and shacks up with Sister Husband (Stockard Channing) and her live-in, Mr. Sprock (Richard Jones), who are both constantly asking God to forgive them for fornicating. Good thing Sister Husband is getting on in years, or she'd probably be popping out young 'uns, too.
The plot of the film consists of little more than overwrought characters running into one problem after another. That they overcome them is supposed to be endearing. That they get into them in the first place has mostly to do with inbreeding. Watching the inbred is a thrilling way to spend a couple of hours.
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