Where the Heart Is (1990 film)

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Where the Heart Is
DVD cover
Directed byJohn Boorman
Written by
  • John Boorman
  • Telsche Boorman
Produced by
  • John Boorman
  • Edgar F. Gross
CinematographyPeter Suschitzky
Edited byIan Crafford
Music byPeter Martin
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • February 23, 1990 (1990-02-23)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$1,106,475[2]

Where the Heart Is is a 1990 American romantic comedy film co-written and directed by John Boorman and starring Dabney Coleman, Uma Thurman, Joanna Cassidy, Crispin Glover, Suzy Amis, and Christopher Plummer.


Stewart McBain is a successful self-made demolitions expert who blows up buildings for a living. In the midst of one such project, a group of protesters stops the last building on a lot, the Dutch House, from being demolished. When McBain appears on TV to dismiss the protests, he is made to look foolish. Returning home, his three college-aged children–Daphne, Chloe, and Jimmy–ridicule him for his television appearance.

Feeling his children are spoiled, McBain kicks them out of the house. Giving them each $750, he drops them off at the Dutch House, which is dilapidated and on the verge of collapse. Jean, their mother, tries to stop him but in vain.

In order to finance their new lives, the children take on housemates. These include a fashion designer named Lionel; a homeless magician, Shitty; a stockbroker, Tom; and Sheryl, an amateur occultist. Chloe is commissioned to finish a calendar for an insurance company. Lionel has to complete his designs for a fashion show. Chloe uses her roommates to model in the calendar, incorporating their bodies into ethereal murals on their walls, and Lionel ends up using some of them for his show.

A stockmarket crash where Tom is chiefly responsible for Mr McBain's stock plummeting, brings McBain to ruin. Desperately attempting to stave off a hostile takeover of his demolition company, he fails. Jean shows up at the Dutch House hysterical as he loses their home and they become destitute.

Mr McBain disappears into the city, feeling down and out. Sleeping in the homeless cardboard box shanty town, scavenging the next day in the dump. Ultimately, his children take him in after Sheryl finds him, and he starts to see the world in a new light.

Evicted from Dutch House after they've all helped Lionel with his dresses and Chloe with her calendar, the homeless shelter turns the McBains and friends away. Jimmy has an epiphany, as there is a bad thunderstorm and the Dutch House is structurally unsound, to use his father's demolishion skills.

The family recovers their properties and wealth, and have learned how to live more simply.



Where the Heart Is was poorly received by critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a score of 9% based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 3.8/10.[3] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "[The film] is essentially a fable set in the wrong city. Its story doesn't fit in New York or seem correctly placed in 1990; it's not quick-witted or street-smart enough."[4]


  1. ^ "AFI-Catalog". catalog.afi.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  2. ^ Where the Heart Is at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Where the Heart Is". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 7, 2023.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Where The Heart Is movie review (1990)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2023-07-07.

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