WHERE THE HEART ISReview by Dave Smith
I first saw Stockard Channing in a little seen 1975 film entitled, "The Fortune." She was magnificent. The film was directed by Mike Nichols and also starred Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. Why this film has not garnered more recognition is beyond me. It is hilarious. Ever since that film I've made it a point to see every Stockard Channing film. From the dumb heiress in "The Fortune" to the irrepressible "Ratzo" in "Grease" to the sophisticated society matron in "Seven Degrees of Separation" and now the trailer trash Welcome Wagon woman in "Where the Heart is." What a stunning and versatile actress! Incidentally I watch "The West Wing" TV series just to catch her occasional performance as the President's wife.
So here she is again almost stealing the movie from Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd. Director Matt Williams, a fellow Hoosier (Evansville, Indiana), has put together a formidable cast. In addition to Channing, Portman and Judd, he has the wonderful Joan Cusack, the underrated Sally Field and a couple of minor actors who show great promise...James Frain and Dylan Bruno. It's a good thing Williams has selected this strong cast because they're needed to hold the rather weak plot together. Williams throws in a mish-mash of events...having a baby in Wal-Mart, a full-blown tornado, a would-be country singer who steals a song and claims he wrote it, a nurse who apparently has no knowledge of birth control and on and on. Common sense dictates you shouldn't believe this unbelievable plot but the characters are so successful in manipulating your emotions, you will find yourself caught up in it and feeling good about the whole thing when the predictable ending occurs.