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Sling Blade 1996

Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town...

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Solar rating: 8.7


Imdb rating: 8.1

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Great movie!
However, I have to say that even though BillyBob is genious in this movie, Almost the entire cast is near embarrassing.
I neither liked nor appreciated BillyBob (c'mon, with a name like that?) till I saw this movie. Def think he's part of the 'something' that makes this special. Looking forward to checking out the series coming up in April based on "Fargo", one of my fave's, in which BB stars.@sssLinkest
Not great acting and yet there's something about this film that keeps me coming back again & again...
This was a very unique film. John Ritter was quite funny and quirky & Billy Bob Thornton was stellar in his performance. At the end of the movie, i was amazed at the credits: Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed and starred in it. An exceptionally well done movie. Highly recommend!
Just watched Sling Blade. Very, very good film. Thornton's performance is amazing; it's a level above most performances of this kind because you get the sense that Carl could probably sharper than he ends up bieng. There's a certain repressed state in Thornton's performance that you don't see in other movies, not even Rain Man (which I must say I loved, for all its treacly Oscar-baiting moments). The script, dialogue and direction are all pitch perfect. If it wasn't for a slightly lagging pace and some scenes that could've been trimmed to make the film a bit punchier, this film would probably be a 10.

Not much else happened today.
Billy Bob Thornton, wrote, directed, and starred in HIS film, "Sling Blade". This is HIS film. He leaves his mark on it through his writing, directing, and most obviously, his acting.

Sling Blade is the story about a retarded man named Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton). When he was twelve years old, he murdered his mother and her lover with a kaiser blade (even though most folks call it a sling blade uh huh). Karl is sent to a mental institution for twenty five years. We open the day before he is let out. In a monologue delivered to the camera, Karl explains his past to a reporter. Before he knows it, he's out on the streets of his small home-town. He quickly finds out about the joy of french fries (fried pertaters uh huh) and befriends a young boy named Frank (Lucas Black). The man who runs the mental institution gets Karl a job with the local handyman who lets Karl live in the back of the store. It doesn't last long though, as Frank and his loving, Christian mother Linda (Natalie Canerday) invite Karl to live in their garage. He accepts and immediately meets two key characters. One being the stereotypical drunk, asshole boyfriend Doyle (Dwight Yoakum) and two being Linda's gay friend who is also her boss Vaughan (the late John Ritter). Doyle is a real dick through nearly all of the film to his girlfriend Linda and her son, but he is a real asshole to Karl and Vaughan who are different. Doyle constantly calls Vaughan a fag and Karl a retard. He means it, but he constantly takes it back until the third act when Doyle's true hatred pours out. Throughout the film, Karl gradually becomes a father figure to Frank. Karl obviously loves Frank and watches out for him as a father would. The film's ending is predictable, yet satisfying, and the film is deeper than most think. This is not a film that allows us to look at what we already believe in, this film makes us dig deeper into our beliefs and stereotypes.

The film is paced well and generally moves fairly quickly. The acting is great all around but besides Thornton, one person really truly stands out and that is the late John Ritter. He acts gay. He talks gay. He has a gay haircut. The guy comes across to the audience as gay. The way he moves screams gay, he just transforms into the character. It was a great role for him and if anyone doubted his true acting abilities, simply show them this film. The man's presence is felt in every scene that he is in. Its simply a great performance that should not go unnoticed. The rest of the cast does a great job as well, but none of them truly step out and play a risky role with the way Ritter and Thornton do. They really put us into the film.

As said, the film forces you to look deeper at the stereotypes that we have given certain people. We are forced to take a deeper look at the "Mentally Retarded Murderer" This is a character that we fear automatically. We have in our minds that this guy is another whacko and that we have a completely screwed up justice system since they let him out into the world again. But we take the character to heart and truly begin to feel sympathy for Karl and to feel what Karl feels. Its a role that is deeper than we believe it is. Its hard to go into it without giving spoilers, but its just a wonderful character.

OVERALL: The film is great. Its a delicate character study with heavy characterization and that forces us to look at our beliefs. Its a great film, certainly worth a look. 8/10 or ***1/2
for the day

Among that too long list I have of "should've-seen-a-long-time-ago-but-never-have" was Sling Blade, an independent film that got a shit-ton of critical acclaim and made Billy-Bob Thornton a star. I finally saw it, and it exceeded even my moderately high expectations. This movie beautifully examines the cyclical nature of abuse, friendship, and love.

A story that looks simple on the surface, it's about Carl (Billy-Bob Thornton), a mentally challenged man who has been in a mental hospital since he was 12 for a double homicide. He is released decades later back into the world with a stack of half a dozen books and a few dollars, with no where to go and nothing to do. The "warden" of sorts at the hospital eventually helps him get a job and a place to stay. Carl quickly makes a few friends and passively inserts himself into the lives of a few people in town, becoming fast friends with 12 year old Frank (Lucas Black). This initially may be because Frank seems to be at the same mental level as Carl, but soon their relationship becomes quite deep, as Carl becomes a source of wisdom and strength for Frank.

The actors in this movie are all fantastic (except for the guy who plays the owner of the small engine repair shop, he made me cringe). The movie is book-ended with appearances by J.T. Walsh (I absolutely love this guy), who plays an inmate at the mental hospital, and he is just fucking awesome. I know that's not the most concise description, but that's what he is in this movie, and it's too bad he's no longer with us. Dwight Yokam and John Ritter round out a cast that was nominated for a SAG for Best Ensemble, and rightfully so. This movie is just brimming with great acting, while Thornton's script is as funny and beautiful as it is tragic.

Scratch one more classic off that confounded list.
Sling Blade was the film that put Billy Bob Thorton on the map. It's a great performance as the mentally challenged Karl Childers.

The story starts with Karl locked away in a mental institution. A news reporter wants to interview him and we find out why Karl is locked away. He killed his mother when he saw her cheating with another man. He killed her with...a sling blade, otherwise known as a kaiser hmm.

Karl gets out of the institution and secures a job and a few friends: including Vaughn Cunningham (John Ritter) and the young boy, Frank Wheatley (Lucas Black). Frank and Karl become good friends and eventually Frank asks his mother (Natilie Canerday) if Karl can move in. She agrees...but, there is a catch.

Linda has a boyfriend named Doyle Hargraves (Dwight Yoakum) who is an abusive bastard. He threatens Frank, makes fun of Vaughn, and openly hates Karl. This mix leads to the films climax.

Sling Blade is a good film;yet, it does not reach the great apex of film making. There are a few plot holes (such as why the mother would allow her son to hang out with an old man) and some leaps of logic.

That's not to say this is a bad film. Thorton shines as usual, bringing life into a cliche character. He makes Karl a special character that we care about. There are some generally good moments in this (Karl and Doyle's showdown), but too many elements missing to make it great. One element is that Dwight Yoakum is very green in this one. He is outshined by the entire cast, and that's a bit distrcting concidering he's a lead.

Overall, an average entry.

"Everything is overly telegraphed, and you can see where the movie is going from a mile away, but it is worth the journey to discover a character like Karl."
-- Madeleine Williams, CINEMATTER
God this is such a good movie. It's emotional, moving, and with a few heart-warming moments. Well written, greatly acted, Billy Bob Thorton was wonderful, his best role in my eyes. John Ritter also did a great performance. The story was great,even though very sad. I really enjoy this movie. This is one movie that really got to me.
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