Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 2000. Twentieth Century Fox, Wind Dancer Productions. Screenplay by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, based on the novel by Billie Letts. Cinematography by Richard Greatrex. Produced by Susan Cartsonis, David McFadzean, Patricia Whitcher, Matt Williams. Music by Mason Daring. Production Design by Paul Peters. Costume Design by Melinda Eshelman. Film Editing by Ian Crafford.
Natalie Portman plays a trailer-trash teenager whose boyfriend leaves her stranded at a Wal-Mart, literally barefoot and pregnant. Sleeping in the department store in its off hours, Portman lives there until the night that she goes into labour and is saved by a mysterious stranger who delivers her baby in aisle 6. Now a national celebrity, she makes a few friends and manages to get moved in to a good home, get a job and work her way up towards her dreams. The acting in this endless soap opera is excellent (aside maybe from Portman in the lead, who still thinks that frowning a lot constitutes serious acting), but every scene offers a new twist to the plot and eventually tires its viewers out. Obviously adapted from a much bigger novel, the screenwriters try to fit too much story into one film and probably should have cut some things out to give the rest a little breathing room (the subplot that follows the boyfriend’s adventures in the music business has no energy). Ashley Judd sparkles as Portman’s nurse and new best friend, though the two of them cast together end up being insultingly ridiculous; they talk about bad boyfriends and Judd says, “Let’s face it, girls like you and me don’t get the pick of the litter.” Girls like what? Movie stars who colour out their highlights and wear tank tops in order to look poor? The finale is pure sentimental schlock revolving around Portman’s romance with a shy librarian (James Frain). Also stars Stockard Channing, Joan Cusack and a cameo by Sally Field.