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Where the Heart Is

  R HD Closed Captioning

John Boorman

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Plot Summary

Stewart McBain (Dabney Coleman) is a successful, wealthy businessman who has given his family the easy life. Now, as young adults, none of the kids are in any hurry to leave the cushy lifestyle they enjoy at home. But McBain knows best. Or so he thinks! To the surprise of his wife (Joanna Cassidy) he kicks the kids out into a dilapidated tenement hoping they'll discover responsibility for themselves. But the tables turn when McBain's business goes under and he and his wife must move in with their offbeat offspring! Now the McBain family must once again learn to live together, an experience that teaches them where their real family fortunes lie!

Customer Reviews


I love watching this movie. I think they have a rather accurate interpretation of family dynamics and bickering (granted most people aren't that wealthy and/or involved in explosives.) Plus! The artwork in it is just wonderful.

Quirky and fun

The fun in this movie is watching Uma Thurman as she is REALLY young in this but you can see early that she's going to be a star. Crispin Glover is Crispin Glover, not far removed from George McFly. The story is a bit of a stretch but it works well. The role by Chris Plummer is well who would have thought. The rest of the cast is somewhat forgettable but they play their roles well. Joanna Cassidy is a long way from her premier role in Bladerunner. And finally, Dabney Coleman and without him, there is no movie. The plot summary here doesn't really go into how McBain's business goes under which is an ironic riot. If you like a movie that will make you giggle while displaying a really quaint sensibility I highly recommend it. It's way underrated.

A Real “Killer” B Movie (one of 237!)

This review is an excerpt from my book “Killer B’s: The 237 Best Movies On Video You’ve (Probably) Never Seen,” which is available as an ebook on iBooks. If you enjoy this review, there are 236 more like it in the book (plus a whole lot more). Check it out!
WHERE THE HEART IS: Right from the opening note we know we’re in for something special: A sentimental orchestration accompanies the image of a hand, painting a New York skyline scene. And when the rock score rises and drowns out the classical track, and the scene becomes real, and one of the buildings in the skyline collapses...we might wonder what the [expletive deleted] is happening. But it’s merely the first of a series of slight-of-hand maneuvers that make this movie magic.
It’s safe to say there’s never been a film quite like “Where the Heart Is;” it’s a very European-style comedy about a very American family. Although it’s billed as a comedy, there are few huge bellylaughs. This isn't unusual; Paul Mazursky’s films are labeled “comedies,” for instance, and their main virtue is their ability to keep you thinking for days afterward. Fellini’s “Amarcord” is classified as comedy, too—but only because there is no genre label to describe a film filled with love, sweetness and fond familial infighting. Like these pictures, “Heart” is a different animal entirely. (One clue to its unconventionality: There are no villains!) The film’s strength lays not in its plot, but in its portrayal of the people whose company we are privileged to share. No character is mere caricature; each is a full-fledged, fully fleshed-out individual—and each struggling, suffering person is treated with infinite affection and amusement.
The tapestry of interweaving themes is almost too rich to discuss quickly. The film is rife with irony, for instance, from conservative Stewart’s incongruous attitude that what makes America great is not preservation, but tearing down the old to make way for the new, to the final irony that in order to prevent their family from becoming outcasts, they must become outlaws—for the family to survive, the landmark must perish. (A nice touch, that; pitting Family Values against Political Correctness. “Only the rich can afford principles,” Stewart’s son proclaims, indicating that *lack* of money is the root of all evil...) Two of Boorman’s recurring images—dancing and magic—appear here in their most refined form. And a whole page could be devoted to the subtle Shakespearean references in the film, from Chloe’s painting of “The Tempest” with Stewart as Prospero, to McBain raging against the rain like Lear, to the round robin of romantic relationships, a feature of many of the Bard’s Comedies.
Add to all of the above one of the most delightful soundtracks of that decade—an eclectic collection of everything from Rimsky-Korsakov to the Cowboy Junkies—and some breathtakingly beautiful, wholly original artwork—a unique and stunning form of trompe l’oeil integrating body-painted humans hidden into murals ranging in style from Magritte to Rousseau (courtesy of artist Timna Woollard)—and you’ve got a film that is visually brilliant, original and unique.
Unfortunately, the movie was such a wretched box office flop. Which brings up a baffling question: Given all the above elements, why was “Where The Heart Is” so universally reviled by critics? Have critics become so hard-hearted that they can’t sense genuine affection radiating off the screen? Have audiences become so action-oriented that a gentle, character-based comedy, filled with love and laughter, just isn’t marketable? Have we all become so accustomed to “Hollywood style” cinema that the French farce influence of a film like this falls flat? Do we choose bullets and blood over art and affection?
“You can’t take out insurance against failure in art!” a businessman warns Chloe—sentiments which could well echo John Boorman’s, and his co-screenwriter, daughter Telsche Boorman’s, own fears about their bold experiment. But then consider their answer, as spoken by Chloe when her murals are destroyed along with the Dutch House: “At least we finished it. We know it’s beautiful.”
You’ll have to decide whether or not “Where The Heart Is” is beautiful in your eyes. There’s no doubt in mine. Beyond the obvious, it’s beautiful because its message is not “life imitates art” or “art imitates life,” but that they are one and the same. It’s beautiful because it celebrates the triumph of art and affection over material concerns. It’s beautiful because it suggests that dedication to one’s vision can elevate the mundane to the elegantly ecstatic, and because it reminds us, as too few films do, of the wisdom of bliss and the magic of the moment; to appreciate the fleeting—and that the heart is truly where home is.

Where the Heart Is
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  • $17.99
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Released: 1990

Customer Ratings