The year is 1972 and it is Thanksgiving week in small town America. The Colliers are getting ready for the holidays. Maurine (Kathy Bates) is intent on preparing the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Bob (Martin Sheen) is keeping an eye on his car dealership and wondering why kids today are not as respectful as they once were. The two Collier children are coming home from school. The youngest, Karen (Kimberly Williams), is hoping she can keep the peace because she knows that her older brother, Jeremy (Emilio Estevez), has returned from Vietnam a changed man. Suffering from severe PTSD, Jeremy is haunted by flashbacks and angry at everything, especially his father. The only reason he even attended college was so he could be near his girlfriend (Carla Gugino) and even she has told him that she no longer feels comfortable around him. When Jeremy returns home, his family first tries to ignore the problems that he’s having adjusting to civilian life but Jeremy is determined not to be ignored.
Emilio Estevez famously agreed to appear, for free, in the third Mighty Ducks films in return for Disney agreeing to produce and distribute The War At Home. Unfortunately, this heartfelt movie has never gotten the attention that it deserves. While Estevez’s direction is never subtle and the script , which was based on a play, is often heavy-handed, The War At Home is redeemed by the powerful performances of Estevez, Bates, Sheen, and Williams. Bates is especially good as the perfect homemaker who is revealed to be smarter than anyone realized. The War At Home is a good but overlooked film that is still relevant today.