November 15, 1993 12:00 PM

Kathy Bales

Here are a couple of ways to pass the time while watching this movie, which is one part The Waltons, one part Where the Lilies Bloom and all parts ghastly: Count clichés or count Kathy Bates’s kids. In either case, the number is high. Bates, the widow of a “no-good vagabond Irish Catholic son-of-a-bitch” who gave her nothing except grief and children (six to be exact), may be short on money, but moxie and dreams she has in abundance. She has long harbored a wish to get her family out of a squalid Los Angeles apartment and into a house that’s “all bright and buttoned-up”—and all hers. Fired from her job at a potato-chip factory, the single-minded Bates, who’s given to exhortations like “Pipe down,” packs her brood into a old Plymouth and drives until she hits Hankston, Idaho. There she espies a parcel of land on which rests a shack with possibilities. No, she doesn’t have the cash to buy the property but, as she says, “I’ve heard that the greenback dollar isn’t the only way to get things done in this great country of ours.”

The relentlessly manipulative A Home of Our Own follows a predictable path: Amid the hard scrabble existence, the shame of being the poorest kids in school, the internecine arguments and near tragedy, the family learns the true meaning of survival. The homespun hokum is all piled on pretty thick, and while Bales goes through her paces with utter, admirable conviction, she’s planting orchids on a (movie) property that should have been condemned. (PG)

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