Where the Heart Is | Chicago Reader

Where the Heart Is

An oddly fanciful comedy from John Boorman, scripted with his daughter Telsche. Dabney Coleman plays a New York demolition tycoon who decides to teach his three spoiled kids (Suzy Amis, David Hewlett, and Uma Thurman) a lesson by letting them fend for themselves in a run-down Brooklyn tenement, where they're joined by various eccentric boarders and, eventually, by their mother (Joanna Cassidy) and father after his business collapses. Fatally miscalculated on many levels (the players are all encouraged to overact stridently, the dialogue is stilted, the storytelling is flabby, and Peter Martin's score is truly insipid), the movie is nevertheless far from unsympathetic, and is clearly a personal work on just as many levels. It harks back to the playful whimsy of some of Boorman's earliest movies—Having a Wild Weekend (1965) and, even more to the point, Leo the Last (1970)—while carrying over some of the family sitcom antics of the more recent Hope and Glory (1987), with a similarly pastoral finale. It's hard to know the precise reasons for all that goes wrong here, but one might venture that Boorman's previous American pictures—Point Blank, Deliverance, and Exorcist II: The Heretic—didn't start from his own scripts. Also the mythical underpinnings of his best work, such as Point Blank and Zardoz, are missing; perhaps they can't find roots in such apparently alien soil as contemporary America. (Although the plot involves such up-to- date matters as corporate raiding and homelessness, it largely turns out to be a 60s story, complete with body painting and other hippie activities.) With Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, and Dylan Walsh (1990).

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