The War at Home (film)

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This article is about the 1996 film. For other uses, see The War at Home.
The War at Home
The War at Home DVD Cover.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Emilio Estevez
Produced by James Duff
Brad Krevoy
Emilio Estevez
Steven Stabler
Written by James Duff, based on his play
Starring Kathy Bates
Martin Sheen
Kimberly Williams
Emilio Estevez
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cinematography Peter Levy
Edited by Craig Bassett
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
20 November 1996
Running time
119 min.
Country U.S.
Language English
Budget $3 million
Box office $44,722

The War at Home is a 1996 war drama film starring, directed and co-produced by Emilio Estevez. The film also stars Kathy Bates, and Estevez' father, Martin Sheen. Writer James Duff adapted his own 1984 play Home Front, into film.


Estevez plays Jeremy Collier, a returning Vietnam War hero whose experiences leave him unable to adjust to the quiet realities of small town life. The film discusses the hidden costs of war on those who fight. Sheen plays Bob Collier, Jeremy's father. He expects his son to go back to his life as it was, without understanding the problems of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Kathy Bates plays Estevez's mother, Maurine, who treats Jeremy "like he's a 10-year-old", and seems to think he should forget about his war experiences. His sister Karen, played by actress Kimberly Williams, is more understanding of his readjustment problems, but their father doesn't want her to help her brother.

This is portrayed in the movie when the family's Thanksgiving celebration occurs and Jeremy refuses to put on his "nice" clothes and instead decides to wear his combat uniform and medal. The film climaxes at the conclusion of the Thanksgiving celebration when Jeremy pulls his semi-automatic handgun on his father and his family, explaining the hate he feels for his father because he wouldn't lend Jeremy money to leave the country to escape the draft.


The film was made for $3 million, following a deal Estevez cut with Disney (who would later under-promote the film) to appear in D3: The Mighty Ducks, and was distributed by Touchstone Pictures.[1] The soundtrack is faithful to the time period, using music from artists such as Buffalo Springfield, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Singer Jena Kraus is featured singing a folk version of the song "Me and Bobby Mcgee" as well.


The film was a box office failure, grossing only $43,000.[2] The film was released on DVD in the US in September 2002.

The film received decent reviews, with a 60% 'fresh' rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.[3] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B- and said, 'The Vietnam-flashback material doesn’t resonate as sharply as it did when screenwriter James Duff first presented this as a stage play in 1984. But with Sheen doing a nice turn as a bewildered Dad and Kathy Bates such a nerve-rattling force as the kill-em-with-cleanliness mother, the agonized family dynamics are effectively awful.'[4]

Stephen Holden of the New York Times remarked how familiar the premise was, but that, ' The War at Home, James Duff's adaptation of his play Home Front, which ran briefly on Broadway in 1985, still finds moments of wrenching sadness in its microscopic examination of an all-American family torn apart by the Vietnam War,' and praised the performances and themes.[5]


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