Amazon-Video Comedy Central Showtime Apple TV+ DC Universe Disney Plus YouTube Premium HBO Max Peacock source-3036 Netflix Vudu HBO Go Hulu Plus Amazon Prime CBS All Access Verizon

Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Sign in with Facebook Sign in with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Agreement.

Where the heart is?

In the mood for a picaresque tale with trailer park touches, in which the heroine's rat-bastard boyfriend gets run over by a train? Then look no further than this adaptation of Billie Letts's Oprah-hyped bestseller (a clue, incidentally, to its weird mix of implausibility and uplift). Teenaged Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) has never lived in a house without wheels, is pregnant by the aforementioned rat-bastard, en route to California (rat-bastard wants to land a job in the oil fields) and obsessed with the number five (seven in the book, but screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel must have their reasons). After a bathroom break at an Oklahoma Wal-Mart, Novalee finds herself abandoned, so she takes up secret, nocturnal residence in the store's sporting goods section. Next thing we know, she's in labor on the floor, and is rushed to the hospital by a smitten local librarian (James Frain). When she awakens, the decent folks at Wal-Mart offer her a job, and over the course of the next hour and a half Novalee grows in oh so many ways. She finds a surrogate family in the town's lovable eccentrics (including Stockard Channing as a cute religious nut and Ashley Judd as a girl who can't say no), discovers her own creativity and finally realizes she's in love with the librarian, despite his JANE EYRE-ish secrets. To be fair, this could have been worse. There are a couple of genuine laughs, the actors are game (particularly Joan Cusack as a no-nonsense talent scout) and the film's five-minute tornado scene is scarier than the whole of TWISTER. But it's hard to shake the feeling that somebody's being condescended to big time, though given the film's plethora of head-shaking, "I don't think so" moments, it may be a mistake to take anything seriously enough to take offense.