Where The Heart Is
Abandoned by her sleazy cowboy boyfriend while buying slippers at a Wal-Mart, a very pregnant teenager with nowhere to turn, hides out in the store. During the day, she wanders around the town and makes friends. At night she conceals herself in the store’s bathroom. When the lights are out, she makes herself at home, keeping a strick account of how much she owes the market. This goes on for weeks, until one night when she is rescued by a quirky librarian who hears her birth pain screams and bursts through the front window. As she becomes famous for having the “Wal-Mart Baby,” she is befriended by another young woman, with four children of her own, and as many ex-boyfriends. The two become friends and life begins to change for our young heroine. Through the kindness of several locals, she is able to get a job and a place to live. The story mixes comic moments with great tragedies as the two women struggle to find their place in this world.
The film bears an appealing performance from young Portman and some very funny and touching moments. It also contains calamities that were difficult to view. One scene in which a woman is found beaten, with her five small frightened children around her, is quite disturbing. The follow-up story concerning a man who not only beat this woman but also sexually abused two of the children is even more unnerving. However, there are some valid messages. When the woman asks how she should respond when her little ones question why someone would do such a thing, she is told to let them know that our lives can change with every breath we take. We should be grateful for the good that comes our way and cling to each other when tragedies befall us. The film employs another distressful moment when a fanatical religious couple kidnaps the newborn, thinking that because she was born out of wedlock, she will be an abomination to the Lord. The producers found a way to not only insult true believers by including this clichéd zealot hillbilly couple, but the state of Mississippi as well. I’m finding this trend of Hollywood mocking people from the South popping up in more and more films. Some residents of Tinseltown don’t seem interested in changing customs and beliefs, so much as ridiculing people for the sake of a cheap laugh. Another twosome who pray before each meal, ask to be forgiven for their fornicating lifestyle, yet they never attempt to change. These scenes are played for laughs, but the couple’s entreaties come from unrepentant hearts, thereby making them seem hypocritical. The film is amusing and at times uplifting, but due to the sexual situations, the bad language, the misuse of the Lord’s name, and the negative portrayal of Christians, it does not meet the guidelines we have set to ensure that parents can be comfortable with their children viewing this movie. Consequently we cannot recommend it.