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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25%
Average: 17.86%
Pretty Bad: 3.57%
Total Crap: 5.36%

3 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Sling Blade
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by Ryan Arthur

5 stars

Compelling and extremely well-done.

I saw this movie in my local art house theater the day after it won an Oscar. I was blown away.

Billy Bob Thornton is Karl Childers, a convicted killer (he killed his mother and her lover when discovered them when he was younger) set free from a mental hospital. He's a simple man with simple tastes (he likes "potted meat" and "french fried pertaters") with a gravelly voice and a wacky accent. He becomes friends with a local child named Frank(Lucas Black), his mother Linda (Natalie Canerday) and her employer (John Ritter), but is a little troubled by the mother's abusive boyfriend Doyle (Dwight Yoakam). Eventually, there comes a point where Karl will have to make a decision about Doyle, and it won't be pretty.

Thornton delivers as Childers. The accent and dialect is the stuff of countless jokes, but the performance isn't. Childers is not a Gump. Childers is far more complex. He's aware that what he did, and in his own way, he's repentant about it ("I dont reckon I ain't got no reason to kill nobody," he says). It's a completely original performance of a completely original character, and it's quite memorable.

The supporting performances are just as strong. Yoakam is chilling and creepy as Doyle, a lazy bastard who only seems to sit around and drink beer after beer, criticizing his girlfriend and the boy. Especially the boy, which, of course, starts to bother Karl. Black is right cool as the young boy, complete with his own accent.

But for my money, you can't beat John Ritter and J.T. Walsh in the same movie. Walsh plays another inmate at the "nervous hospital" (as Childers calls it), who tells a chilling story. The role is small and not necessarily essential to the plot, but it still showcases the talents of a great character actor. As for Ritter, he's a long whay from Jack Tripper. As Vaughan, the homosexual grocery store manager, Ritter is perfect. Vaughan is comfortable with his sexuality, but he seems almost sorry for it, like he has to apologize to everyone about it. He's similar to Childers in that he knows Linda's in an abusive relationship, but he's sort of helpless, though not in the way Childers is.

The ending is a foregone conclusion, but still tense when it happens. Strong performances make this well worth the watch.

Completely original. Definitely worth your time.

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originally posted: 01/20/99 03:34:50
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User Comments

12/28/09 Dane Youssef One of 1996's finest. Thorton scores in every department. Everyone beams. 5 stars
6/20/09 Aussie Saw it years ago , haunts me still .. 5 stars
9/23/07 Sambadi Just crap 1 stars
8/14/06 Sharon Made me cry zi got bored at times but I can relate to the kid 4 stars
9/15/05 Indrid Cold Like Brando with Don Corleone, Thornton's characterization is brilliant, unforgettable. 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Dwight is the man, Duvall keeps getting good movies for playing the same guy in each 5 stars
7/20/05 tatum Finally, a southern movie actually shot in the south; excellent 5 stars
7/04/05 blowsky monster, king of cool, you guys don't know shit about movies, so shut the hell up 5 stars
6/26/05 Jeanne Dwight Yoakum was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nom - he disappeared into Doyle. 5 stars
8/10/04 alvin grung Telegraphs the moral/plot, but Thornton/Yoakum/Ritter great! 4 stars
2/10/04 king of cool this movie is the worst!!!!!! 1 stars
12/10/03 Samuel a really good movie 4/5 stars!! 4 stars
4/13/03 Quick Draw worth watching 3 stars
3/25/03 X Film-making at its absolute best. 5 stars
2/02/03 fjfnnmnm A cinematic gem. 5 stars
8/29/02 Monster W. Kung Idiot-savant at least doesn't become glorified superhero Forrest Gump. Still overrated. 3 stars
7/02/02 R.W. Welch Some decent writing here but plot somehow manages to be both predictable and implausible. 3 stars
4/15/02 Dark Baron We'll never see a movie like this in 200 years. 5 stars
3/05/02 Jenny Tullwartz Might've been good if it cared about main character rahter'n o.d.-ing on pol. correctness. 2 stars
8/27/01 phil m. afficiando Ryan_a captures my emotional "awesome" but OZ is right re: story line flaws. 4 stars
8/20/01 Clarance A must see, Thorton was amazing! 5 stars
7/10/01 M I just love Lucas! 5 stars
7/03/01 Oberon Outstanding Film 5 stars
5/05/01 Gracy Lionheart I really liked this movie...not for everybody though. 4 stars
3/15/01 Rael Billy Bob Thorton is one of the finest actors in America. 5 stars
11/21/00 Terrie Smith Slow but compelling; helluva performance from Thornton. 1 stars
9/02/00 Rosalie Coleman I reckon I'll have me some of the big ins' mmm hmmmm 5 stars
7/14/00 Japtalian Shouldn't been doing that boy like that...hmmmmm. 5 stars
4/15/00 malcolm an unforgettable tale from top to bottom 5 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg Good, of course, but never quite clung to me. Seemed more of a "Gump" rip at first. 4 stars
6/17/99 little jerry Sling Blade Vs Forrest Gump.Real TALENT Vs real money.No contest. 5 stars
6/17/99 SquareTex This film is not easily forgotten...especially since I want to see it again. 5 stars
3/18/99 Max Bernstein Hey Billy-Bob, Fuck off and fetch me some french fried pataters. Bitch. 2 stars
3/10/99 Go Swans Yeah yeah, good performances, but NOT a masterpiece. 3 stars
3/01/99 Spankey WOW!!! One of the best movies ever made, congrats Billy Bob 5 stars
1/24/99 Hannah Holy cow! 5 stars
12/25/98 Cat Great characters;good development 4 stars
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  27-Nov-1996 (R)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005


  31-Jul-1997 (M)

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