Sling Blade [VHS]
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Product Description

Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed, and starred in this mesmerizing drama with haunting overtones of To Kill a Mockingbird. Thornton plays a mentally retarded man who has spent 20 years in a psychiatric hospital for killing his mother and her lover. Released into the community from which he came, he befriends and protects a lonely boy regularly harassed and abused by his mom's boyfriend (a terrific performance by Dwight Yoakam). The story is ultimately about sacrifice, but Thornton certainly doesn't get twinkly about it. Some of the best material concerns the hero's no-big-deal efforts to integrate into a "normal" life: working, eating fast food, earning admiration for his handyman skills, and attaining a semblance of community among other damaged souls. John Ritter has a great part as a gay shopkeeper who tries to assuage his own loneliness by spilling his guts out to Thornton's uncomprehending character. --Tom Keogh

Now see for yourself -- the powerful motion picture applauded by critics and moviegoers alike, written, directed, and starring Billy Bob Thornton. Twenty five years after committing an unthinkable crime, a quiet man named Karl (Thornton) is finally returning home. Once there, he is befriended by a fatherless boy and his mother. But when his newfound peace is shattered by the mother's abusive boyfriend (Grammy-winner Dwight Yoakam), Karl is suddenly placed on a collision course with his past. Also featuring Robert Duvall, John Ritter, and J.T. Walsh, SLING BLADE is an unforgettable movie experience.

Customer Reviews:

  • Sling Blade
    we see this movie all the time on cable and it just wasnt enough...we had to have it at home...and it is a very good quality disc....we love it...more info
    The only bad thing I can say about this movie is that director/actor/writer Billy Bob Thornton (BBT) will never top it. Watch the included extras on Disc II of this release (over three hours worth) and you'll see that BBT agrees with that prediction. "Sling Blade" is simply a GREAT movie, already a classic. It is better each time I watch it. ...more info
  • Thought provoking
    "Sling Blade" is an emotionally exhausting picture which establishes Billy Bob Thornton as one of our very best actors, writers, and directors. This story of a mentally handicapped man committed to a mental hospital for a childhood double murder, and his attempt to make it in the outside world, avoids the usual stereotypes about the closed-minded townsfolk and their prejudice against someone like Karl Childers, Thornton's character. Upon his release Childers is given a mechanic's job and befriends a young boy, his widowed mother, and her gay best friend. Unfortunately, the mother's drunken, violent boyfriend - Dwight Yoakam in a dark, effective performance - cannot accept Karl getting in the way of his relationship, and Childers must ultimately defend his new "family" the only way he knows how.
    The tragedy of "Sling Blade" is that Childers is a basically gentle soul whose abusive childhood - his father and mother made him live in a shed behind the house - and marginal intelligence have made him unable to function without violence. More importantly, deep down Childers knows this; he knows he cannot function as a free man, and simply cannot protect the ones he loves without violence. The result is one of the most sympathetic characters I have ever seen in a movie.
    Don't read things into a film that aren't there, but don't ignore the interesting elements that are. Get those wheels upstairs turning and start enjoying intelligent filmmaking instead of merely seeking an excitement fix!...more info
  • Finally get all the jokes ...
    Forever I have heard "French fried potatoes" in that low voice and didn't get the joke but now I understand.

    I loved this movie. The only thing that I noticed was that the boys accent was more of a West Florida/Alabama accent, the moms was more Arkansas. But I suppose they just assume that people just hear "bumpkin" and wouldn't notice. It only detracted for a moment as I tried to decipher what wasn't right.

    Watch this movie! ...more info
  • Modern masterpiece!
    Karl (Billy Bob Thorton) is a mentally challenged former killer that done a serious crime 25 years ago has been released back home. While he's there he meets and befriends a young boy (Lucas Black) and his widowed mother (Natalie Canerday) whom has trouble with the abusive boyfriend Doyle (Dwight Yokem) as it suddenly remindes Karl of his horrific past.

    Brilliantly acted and original drama that is a thought-provoking and well-written movie that moves the viewer and made Karl one of the most memorable screen characters ever that ranks up there with Raymond Babbit from "Rain Man" and Forrest Gump plus it made Billy Bob Thorton a star. The film co-stars John Ritter as a gay store owner, Robert Duvall as Karl's long lost father and J.T. Walsh, the film is a powerful and sad film experience that i strongly recommend! it's always been an all-time favorite of mine.

    This 2-Disc Collector's edition has the never-before-seen director's cut with audio commentary by writer-director-star Billy Bob Thorton with great extras like interviews, a featurette on Billy Bob's road to stardom, a Bravo profile featurette on Billy Bob and reviews of the movie.

    If you like movies then get this 2-Disc special edition! highly recommended movie....more info
  • A stunning film in every aspect
    This is the type of rare film that will literally leave the viewer stunned upon a first viewing. With Sling Blade, Billy Bob Thornton unleashed one of the most powerful films and performances in the history of films. From beginning to end, this jaw dropping film will amaze, horrify, and mystify the viewer. Every emotion will be tapped and every one of your senses will be jolted. The best part of all, upon several viewings it may not stun you as it did the first time, but, it will never cease to amaze and entertain you. This is a high level, unique and extremely original film that deserved it's massive praise. Very few films are instant classics, but, this unusual masterpiece is a prime example for when that happens. I would strongly suggest for every true film lover to see this film. It is definately a "must see."...more info
  • sooo good!
    One of my favorites. I have purchased this for all my family and friends. Funny and touching!...more info
  • Religious imagery in "Sling Blade"
    An excellent movie. Superb actors animate believable characters to tell a simple, moral story that is chock full of imagery from Christianity and Greek mythology. Not your typical Hollywood fare, unfolding slowly, the movie has some interesting music as well. Although not for everyone, many people will find this movie richly rewarding, especially on the second and third viewings as more of the imagery becomes apparent. ...more info
  • I wish Billy bob would of let me bore a slingblade so i could of killed my self and not sit through this movie!!!!
    Story: 'tard befriends boy. Enough said....more info
  • Socio-Psycho Drama
    Top drawer performances by entire cast. Having grown up in a small town in the rural south, the film is not only believable, but also probable. Provides brilliant insights on our poor understanding, lack of funding, and related inadequate treatment of our warehoused non-mainstream population. While the film makes an important statement, it certainly should be recognized for the wonderful telling of beautiful story with an unfortunate ending. Learn something new with every viewing....more info
  • Slingblade: Masterful
    Slingblade offers a very touching look at the relationship between a mentally ill man and a young boy who seemingly needs any semblance of a father figure in his life. Billy Bob Thornton acts so well in the film that he physically doesn't resemble himself. The late great Jon Ritter offers little masculine comfort to the boy as he is gay in the film, but provides priceless moments in his attempts to understand this mentally ill man who has forged a bond with a family he holds dear. All the while, Doyle (the mother's boyfriend) provides some of the funniest and despicable moments in film with his conservative red-neck views on all things. Inevitably Billy Bob Thornton's character callously succumbs to the beckoning of his nature and kills again for what he believes are the right reasons. His strong sense of misdirected justice draws you in and leaves you to question whether or not he should be blamed. A powerful film that I use for instruction. It is entertaining from the word go, and a jewel in film seldom discussed....more info
    I was not particualrly enamored of BBT, especially after the odd relationship with Angelina Jolie, the tatoos, the vials of blood around each other's necks, etc, and dismissed him as just a part of yet another dysfunctional Hollywwod couple. Was I wrong! This performance is unlike any I have ever seen before, and I was riveted from the beginning to the end and was surprised that some people stated it was long; to me, the time flew by because I was so deeply involved with all the characters, espceially Karl (BBT). His WALK, every movement, his speech, his gutteral tones, all are wonderful and mesmerizing; and all the time you wonder that is really going on in his mind, something I never really thought about much before in any other movie with any other character. The boy, Frank, is fantastic, very real and believable, and Dwight Yoakum was so good and scary I didn't even realize I was watching Dwight Yoakum; that is a great performance.
    Toward the end, when Karl came to do what he need to do in order to ensure the safety of the family he had befriended, Doyle was sitting in a chair in the living room, the family safely with Vaughan (John Ritter, in an amazing role with the perfect haircut for his character) and eerily, Doyle seemed to suddenly have a precognitive flash and was real quiet, still obnoxious and bullying but in a much quieter tone, just mouthing the words, as his malice and posturing were suddenly gone, leaving him only with the knowledge that this time he wasn't going to be able to walk away from his just retribution.
    Karl also knew what would happen, and honestly, it was like killing 2 birds with one stone; he was able to set his friends free from a terrible and dangerous bully and get himself back inside the safest place he knew, the asylum, where he was most comfortable and at home. All in all, a very satisfactory ending, and a truly original and amazingly well-crafted movie....more info
  • Genius
    Sling Blade is a fantastic movie that you'll never forget. Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed and starred in this Oscar-winning movie. Billy Bob was not yet a household name at the time, so he was a relatively unheard of man who created this deeply moving portrait of a simple man with a big heart, logical thinking and a horrible past.

    I don't know how Thornton does it, several times I've seen movies and never knew it was him until the credits rolled. He completely morphs into the character he's playing, changing his appearance, size, everything. Thornton does an INCREDIBLE job of becoming Karl Childers, the main character, complete with a strange voice, twitches, odd mannerism and a shuffling gate. Equally as great in this movie was Lucas Black, the young boy he befriends. Black has a wonderful Southern accent, (which I'm glad he has not been coached out of even today) and a very natural screen presence. The 2 become fast friends in the movie, and when Childers sees his little friends' plight, he feels forced to make some important life-altering decisions.

    Yoakum plays a contemptuos, domineering woman-abuser that no viewer will feel sympathy for. Lucas Black's character's mother is not a very strong character, but perhaps that's intentional. A stronger woman would find her way free from Yoakum.

    And then there's John Ritter. I confess to not having been a Ritter fan from his hideous "Three's Company" TV show, but he found his niche in movies. He's great in this as the local gay shopkeeper who is protective and empathetic to the Lucas Black and his mother characters. He teamed up with Thornton in 'Bad Santa' and 'Daddy and Them' as well, they have a great presence together. It's a tragedy we're without Ritter today.

    The film is heart-wrenching, full of love and horror, frindship, loyalty, surprise, reality and fantastic acting. Billy Bob Thornton proved early on, in this film, that he's a genius and the finest actor alive. Throw in his directing, his writing, and unrelated to this, his songwriting and singing, and we have our modern day Leonardo DaVinci. What CAN'T he do?

    This film should not be missed. I don't know where the idea for the story came from, but it could well be a true story as it seems so real. No wild embellishments, no fantasy, no unbelievable story line, but rather, painful images of child abuse, demented parents (Robert Duvall has a small part as Childers' father, and of course plays it very well), public attitude about other people, the plight of the abused woman, the plight of the abused child and fatherless child, mental illness.. it touches on so many social issues I'd rank it as one of the more important films of the century.

    You won't be disappointed (unless you like fluff) in this moving, disturbingly real tale of love, friendship, loyalty, and the simple story of the simple man Karl Childers. Don't miss it....more info
    There's no doubt, this is Billy Bob Thortons best performance!
    This is the first movie I ever saw him in. I thought he really
    was mentally challenged, and his face really looked like that.
    I didn't recognise him in his next movie, because I thought he
    really looked the way he did in Sling Blade! Why this movie
    didn't win many awards, is rediculous! The story, the acting,
    and everything about this movie, make it a true classic film!...more info
  • Superb! Cult film of the 20th Century!
    Slingblade is a diminutive little guy who just wants to be left alone. He's pretty slow in the brain but he's aware of that fact and he's okay with it; however, he lives in a one-hoss town that is bulging with bungholes, most of whom torment him on some level.

    The cast, the story, the cinematography and everything else about this film are just tops. John Ritter is INCREDIBLE in this very personal movie.

    Don't pass this one by!...more info
  • Commentary lacking...
    Unlike some of the reviews, I usually skip the violent scenes with Yoakam. Other than that I like this movie and watch it over and over. What disappoited me was the commentary by Thornton. I would see something in a particular scene and think- "why is he or why are they doing that and in that way" but it would never be addressed. I found Thornton spending too much time talking about himself, his views, his ideas almost to the point of trying to justify himself to his critics. I wanted to know more about the scenes. I felt cheated by the commentary not enlightened by it....more info
  • "Sling Blade" is a masterpiece
    You have to wish "Dr Funk" (20 July) had borrowed that ol' slingblade so the rest of us would have been spared from reading that moronic review....more info
  • One of the BEST movies ever made! A Masterpiece!
    The film starts with Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) being released from the State Hospital (a mental ward) and telling his story to two young college student reporters. Karl is retarded, and spent his childhood in a dirt-floored shed in back of his parents house - they didn't want him in the house and treated him like an animal they'd picked up. Around the age of ten or twelve he caught his mother having sex with a bully from his school and he mistakenly thought his mother was being raped. So he killed the boy, Jesse Dickson, with a sling blade. When he found out his mother "didn't mind what Jesse was a'doin to her", he killed her too.

    Freshly released from the hospital, Karl returns to his hometown but "doesn't know how to be a free man". He helps a young boy, Frank (Lucas Black) carry his laundry home and the two become fast friends. He gets a job, with help, working at a small engine repair shop. Karl is like an idiot-savant, hardly able to live on his own but a genius at fixing small engines. "Lawnmowers and whatnot". Frank's mother Linda (Natalie Canerday) invites Karl to stay in their garage instead of out in back of the repair shop, so Karl moves in.

    There's just one problem. Linda's boyfriend, Doyle Hargraves (Dwight Yoakam) is a mean, intolerant man. He hates Frank, and abuses Linda and Frank verbally nonstop. He doesn't like a "mental retard" living in Linda's garage. He also doesn't like Linda's best friend Vaughan Cunningham (John Ritter), the gay manager of the dollar store Linda works at. Doyle can't even get along with his own friends.

    'Sling Blade' is the story of Karl's "free" life and his friendship with Frank. It's a story of awakenings, one that will leave you breathless with the beauty of it. It's about the purest form of love, and the ugliest side of domestic abuse. I was deeply moved by the hidden bravery of Vaughan, who's terrified of Doyle but stands up for Linda and Frank even though he knows he's incapable of physically defending them. There's the quiet reflectiveness of Karl, who's spent a lifetime inside his own head and now has to deal with people on a daily basis. You'll see the "battered women's syndrome" in Linda, a kind soul who only sees the beauty in every person, even Doyle. And there's the viciousness of Doyle, from his everyday spoken words to his threats to beat and kill Linda, Frank, and Vaughan.

    The acting in this movie is outstanding. Billy Bob Thornton, who also wrote and directed the movie, is amazing as Karl. He's honestly captured the motions, speech, and spirit of the mentally challenged Karl. And where the heck did Dwight Yoakam learn to act so well? He gives a stunning performance as the sadistic Doyle, he makes the role as real as life, an absolutely amazing performance. Yoakam's performance and Thornton's writing really captured the unexpected violence of the domestic abuser, the "walking on eggshells" routine those around them must live. Yoakam and Thornton are both naturals in front of the camera. There's also a short cameo appearance by Robert Duvall as Karl's father.

    The question is, can Karl save Linda and Frank from a life of abuse under Doyle's cruel behavior? In the end, will he sacrifice himself for them? Just how much love does Karl have for the boy he's become so attached to?

    I can't recommend this movie highly enough. It's a low budget film that introduced Billy Bob Thornton into the filmmaking industry, as a writer, director, and actor. The talent in this film is astonishing. It's never dull or slow. This is a film I believe that everyone should watch, no matter what your genre preferences are. Ten Stars! Enjoy!
    ...more info
  • Scary but good.
    Sling Blade is a pretty shocking and intense film. Billy Bob Thornton is unrecognizable in this gritty and challenging role. His character has just been released from a mental ward and he befriends a young, sweet boy he has troubled family issues. Sling Blade is a slow cooker kind of film, he starts off slow but the last hour is just pure intensity and madness. John Ritter also stars and he's quite good as well, very under-rated and quiet performance. Gotta see this one, enjoy!...more info
  • Great DVD, um hmm
    Miramax isn't making a big deal about it, but "Sling Blade" turns 10 somewhere around here. The indie classic hasn't aged a day -- it remains heartfelt, compelling and taut, even with 22 minutes added for the director's cut DVD. The movie tells the tale of Karl, a kind, slow-thinking, slow-talking manchild just released from a mental home, where he was sent for killing his mother and her lover in a fit of confusion.

    The film looks great, considering its low budget. The transfer is new, with widescreen images unspooling at 1.85:1. Audio gets an upgrade from the previous DVD to 5.1 surround. The sound is warm and clear but with some boominess.

    The improbable success story of writer-director-actor Billy Bob Thornton and "Sling Blade" is told and retold in the generous-to-a-fault extras, which add up to something like seven hours. Some folks would call it overkill -- your mileage may vary. Thornton first recorded the commentary for a Criterion laserdisc. He updates it here when the newly inserted footage comes into play. It's a telling contrast. Thornton whispered like a hung-over golf analyst on the older material, but now sounds clear-voiced and engaged. Regardless, admirers will be better served by the profiles and interviews on disc 2. Missing is the original Karl short film, "Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade," directed by George Hickenlooper. Not much mention is made of it, either.

    One of the best bits is a roundtable discussion with singer Dwight Yoakam (who turned heads playing a liquored-up bad ass), veteran actor-musician Mickey Jones ("Home Improvement"), producer David Bushnell and Thornton. A lot of the talk is about music, which Thornton insists is at the heart of the movie. Thornton then reunites with scorer Daniel Lanois in a 22-minute segment. Lanois performs Karl's theme music and recalls the score as having "a nice na?ve spirit."

    Two docus profile the down-home director: "Mr. Thornton Goes to Hollywood" from 1996 and a more recent bio from Bravo. Together they add up to almost two hours, plenty of time to cover Thornton's childhood, his early "days of hell" in L.A. as a waiter and B-movie actor, the breakthrough with "One False Move" and the story of Karl's creation. Thornton goes home again to Arkansas in one of the segments, dispensing plenty of charm and backslaps....more info
  • Breathtaking film
    A "sling blade" is what 12-year old, mentally-retarded Karl used to kill his mother and her lover many years ago. Now middle-aged and released from the state mental hospital, Karl (Billy Bob Thornton) returns to his hometown, completely alone and so helpless that he even tries to go back to the hospital. But Karl does begin his life on the outside and befriends a boy who is as lonely as he is. Karl moves in with the boy and his mother, who are abused by her drunken boyfriend (Dwight Yoakum) - a man just as mean as Karl's father was.

    I put off seeing this move for years because I thought it would be too depressing. While it is sad, I'm glad I saw it, because the story was fascinating and all of the actors were extraordinary. I guessed what the ending would be early on so I didn't feel hopeless watching the story unfold; instead I was caught up in the spell of Billy Bob and the world he created on the screen. Thornton is unrecognizable as the simple man with a cruel past, and his performance is utterly convincing. Lucas Black, as the boy, is also excellent and John Ritter has a very good role as a gay shopkeeper. A thought-provoking movie that takes an unsentimental look at real pain. Recommended.

    Kona...more info
  • u shouldnt of done that
    u shouldnt of done that he was just a boy now im gonna have to kill with this here sling blade....more info
  • Your madula oblangatta will hurt for days.
    This classic would've gotten 5 stars, but hearing the late great J.T. Walsh use the phrase ''uncircumcized penis'' made me puke up my french fried taters with mustard. l thought John Ritter's character was really funny. Not funny as in queer, funny as in ha-ha....more info
  • This is an absolute masterpiece that everyone should see
    Billy Bob is well known for his quirky "jerk" characters in movies like Pushing Tin, Bad Santa, and the Bad News Bears. Well, he proves his skill as an actor by playing the complete opposite side of the spectrum in this movie, a "slow" man released from a psychiatric hospital where he had been for a few decades after he murdered his mother and stepfather. This is hands-down the best performance I've seen from Thornton, and I have the utmost repect for him after this movie. It's even more incredible that he wrote and directed the movie, in adding to his starring performance.

    I'll admit that the subject matter and the fact that some people said this was the saddest movie they saw made me hesitant to watch it. I'm so glad I did. It is a sadder movie, but it's also a movie about finding friendship in the unlikliest places, and what family means. The small town setting shows is a contrast between some of the most loving and accepting people in the world and some of the most close-minded and cruel.

    Watch this once to see both Thornton at the top of his game and John Ritter in an outstanding role as a gay grocery store worker. This is one of the most overlooked films of the 90's....more info
  • changed my life.
    i wanted to watch a movie, so my dad brought out "sling blade" to watch. i didn't think much of it.. and i was wrong. this is possibly the most powerful movie i've ever seen. i cried twice during it. it is a work of art, with the way different soundtrack and the powerful message. it is the best movie i've ever seen. i think it's changed my life. i don't think words can explain how much this movie means to me. i can't say much more without spoiling it. please, please watch it. it's deep. the best way to watch it is quietly and only with few other people, with no other distractions. ...more info
  • Not bad...not fantastic either
    I purchased this as a gift for my mother. She LOVES this film. Personally I think the best parts of the movie involve Dwight Yoakam...not such a nice fella but VERY realistic. Reminds me of some people I've actually encountered over the years. Overall a good movie...kind of creeps me out though. ...more info
  • Perfection Improved
    I have finally gotten to watch (for the first of many times be certain) the entirety of the 2 DVDs of the re-released "Sling Blade", Billy Bob Thornton's masterpiece. The specific re-relased set of DVDs if really the subject of this review. Finally...a Special Edition CD that warrants the title "Special'. What a wonderful DVD. Every fan Billy Bob has is going to love it!!!!!!

    SHAME ON the decision-makers who deprived the public of Billy Bob's insightful, informative, and very personal 'commentary' on the first DVD release. I have often pondered purchasing a used laser disc player in order to hear his words. I didn't ever, but believe me those words were worth waiting for. I don't usually watch the commentary of a film more than once, but I can say with certainty, I will watch this on a routine basis.

    I am often disappointed when a Billy Bob film is released on DVD and he isn't on the commentary and/or featured very much in any of the additional special features. There was nothing disappointing about this group of special features and particularly about this commentary.

    I loved the fact that we were made privy to so much of the behind-the-scenes information and so much of Billy Bob's personal likes, dislikes, goals, and feeling about this movie his fans have so grown to love and associate with his artistic genius. I was grateful too that he was the only voice on the commentary, because he IS the voice of this film.

    The movie was definitely made more special by the additional footage, which was not a great deal more coverage in terms of length, but unlimited in its value of being exposed to more of Karl, and ultimately to the heart and thoughts of Billy Bob himself.

    I have lost track of the number of times I have viewed the original film, but I am still blown away by every aspect of the film, and I still cry every time, even when it is separated only by hours in between, as when I watch the film today and then immediately thereafter the commentary. It was rewarding the me to note that small things I had noticed about the film, (but had no idea if they were my imagination at work, or deliberate or accidental, and if they have been noticed by many, many viewers) were indeed 'there' because of one circumstance or another during the filming.

    How I have loved this story, these actors, and the entire beauty of this work and how I love it even more now that I have been given access to Billy Bob's special introspection.

    Anyone who had been so kind as to read my reviews, of Billy Bob's films/music, may have noticed, I have never written a review of this movie. First off, I think the film speaks for itself and for Billy Bob and doesn't really need my humble input. Second, my feelings about the film are so 'deep and personal to me' and so 'respective and humbled-by-the-genius of Billy Bob', that I could never find the words to review the film in even a semi-objective manner. This little sound-off about this new DVD is the closest I will ever come to reviewing the film, and it is more about the DVD itself.

    If by some unfortunate set of circumstances someone on this site has NOT seen this film, please, please give yourself the greatest gift of entertainment pleasure you ever could and watch the entire DVD set as soon as possible. For those who have seen the movie and liked it, if you haven't done so yet.....treat yourself to more and watch it again, but this time in all its glory .

    ...more info
  • Billy Bob is quite gifted
    This is a gritty drama about innocence & purity & triumph over the cruelty of human kind. Mr. Thorton is Quite a talented man! There are some serious issues of abuse in this movie. It's not one for the kids....more info
  • A masterpiece
    Billy Bob Thornton's unforgetable should have been nominated for best picture. It's a fantastic ride with an emotional story and great relationships. Also, I never saw the movie Shine with Geoffrey Rush but I seriously don't understand how anyone could have acted better than Billy Bob Thornton. Where the heck is his oscar? For all of you that think that Jamie Foxx was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING in Ray, well, watch this movie because Billy Bob Thorton's performance is 10000000 times better. Just look at his posture, facial expressions, grunts, moans, and his accent. I find his performance in this movie to be the BEST ACTING PERFROMANCE EVER! Thornton wrote, directed and starred in this so just watch it for all of the effort that he put into it. And his performance is absolutely breathtaking. He'll make you laugh and cry your head off. This is a very sad and emotional movie.
    The movie is about Karl (Billy Bob Thorton), a man released from a mental institution a long time after he slaughtered his mother and her boyfriend as a child. Now, while, most of the critics call this man a boyfriend, he's not. He's a student abusing her and she's enjoying it. Karl freaks and murders them with a sling blade or as he calls it, a keiser blade. Karl is mentally challenged and now is finally released from the mental institution. By the way, for parents worriedfor their children, the movie doesn't show him kill them. He just tells the story of how and what happened. So for the whole movi, there is no violence that you see. Also, for language, there are literally no cuss words besides one scene of strong nonstop language. The movie is very powerful and emotional and is in my opinion appropriate for 13 years + children or mature children.
    Anywhere, from then Karl gets a job and meets a friend, Frank. Frank is a boy who has a nice mother who has an awful boyfriend. The boyfriend is racist and threathens to kill Frank's mom if she ever leaves him. THis boyfriend is masterfully played by Dwight Yoakam. So, this boyfriend is the only mean person in the story. He's the vilain. When Karl moves in with Frank, the boyfriend gets mad and sparks fly. Karl will then have to make a tough decision and will need to confront his past. The movie has amazing performances by everyone including Billy Bob Thorton, Dwight Yoakam, John Ritter and the actor that played Frank.
    THe movie is the best when Karl and Frank are together. They love each other and are best friends. They protect each other and they both reveal their secrets. Karl and Frank seem very similiar and you can see many parralels between Karl as a boy and Frank.
    The movie is very sad and emotional and will make you cry probably. You love Karl and I wanted to hug him. He is a very kind troubled man and Frank is the loving boy who cares for him. THeir life would be perfect if it weren't for the mean, racist and abusive boyfriend. I recommend this movie to everyone and I will definitely add it to my top 25 movies. And hopefully tonight, I'll enjoy American Beauty like I did this amazing movie. This is must rent and a worthy addition to any serious DVD collection. ...more info
  • Billy Bob Thorton's Best Performance
    This is one of the greatest films I've ever viewed and Billy Bob Thorton is absolutely amazing. Thorton in this film is virtually unrecognizable, both with his look and his voice simalar to Charlize Theron in "Monster." Thorton wrote and directed the film as well, adapting it from a short film, he also wrote called
    "Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade." Thorton was nominated for Best Actor, but didn't win and instead won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay and rightfully so. The film is powerful, it's got a sacrafice theme to it and the end of the film (if not semi-predictable) is great. Thorton stars as Karl Childers, a man who was recently released from the state hospital after killing his mother and her boyfriend as a child. Karl is a bit slow, but he gets a job fixing small engines and befriends a young boy named Frank (Lucas Black, who would reunite with Thorton in "Friday Night Lights") and moves in with the boy and his mother. Problem is, the boy's mother has an abusive boyfriend named Doyle
    (country singer Dwight Yoakam who's great) which doesn't sit well with him. Also in the film is John Ritter as Vaughan, a homosexual shop keeper and friend of Frank's mother. Now, I love this movie and almost every thing about it. One thing I did find a bit hard to accept was the fact that when Karl tells Frank's mother that he killed his mother and her boyfriend, the mother just accepts it without a second thought. Would the film have worked if she kicked him out of the house for it? No, but there could've been some way to make it more believable.
    A+...more info
  • Amazingly Bad
    Consisting of a woefully contrived plot full of so many holes one could easily disguise it as a hunk of Swiss cheese, an unbelievably annoying and one note lead performance and howlingly bad dialogue, "Sling Blade" pulled to wool of the critics eyes in 1996 who fell all over themselves to praise this painfully bad piece of cinema and the "hillbilly chic" of its creator Billy Bob Thornton. Nearly a decade later we get a two disc DVD set that includes, among other things, a LONGER version. It is difficult to imagine how more time could possibly make this more watchable, but since so many fell for this scam on the first go around Miramax probably feels they'll do it again. Still, fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me!

    Look, I know that this review will get slammed with unhelpful votes, and I can live with that. I also know that it is not going got deter one person for forking over their hard earned cash to buy (or rent) a copy and I'm not going to lose any sleep over that. But like the brave little boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes" who refused to play the lemming I simply gotta say "HE'S NAKED!"

    There. I feel better....more info
  • Billy Karl
    I watched "Sling Blade" for the first time tonight in this director's cut version. I cannot compare it to the original version but I didn't think that the movie was needlessly long. I found that it was a very good movie with a lot of very good acting. I especially liked the role that John Ritter played as a gay grocer in a small Southern town. I liked the way the movie was written and, as I suspect was true of many, I truly enjoyed the character of Karl played by writer/director Billy Bob Thornton. His job of directing was pretty good as well. The way he used a local TV crew to ferret out the facts from this quiet criminal was a great touch. The way his relationship developed between him and a young fatherless boy was a joy to watch. Karl has been released from the State Mental Hospital and re-enters a world that is not the same as the one he exited years before. As he stumbles back into his home town, we see a man of very limited social skills. However, he has befriended this young boy and he is welcomed by the boy and his mother into their household. (Not completely though; he stays in their garage). The mother's boyfriend, however, has other ideas.

    The movie does an excellent job of getting us interested in Karl's life and his interaction with others. What I didn't enjoy about "Sling Blade" was the missing personality development for one of the main characters; the boy's mother. We explore many different personalities in this movie but we're expected to accept that an otherwise normal, intelligent, charitable woman would spend her time in a relationship with a sadistic narcissus. Yes we may know some women like that but that still doesn't answer the question why. At least, if it did, I never was able to pick up on it. It behooves a movie of this nature to cover all the bases since it asks us to "understand" the different people involved.

    The other aspect of "Sling Blade" that bothers me is the way the story is constructed to endear us to the assailant and alienate us towards the victim. The fact that this movie has a violent end doesn't bother me. It's that we're led to cheer this violent ending as some sort of moral justice. At least that's how I took it and that's why the simplistic portrayal of the mother bothered me. The victim of the violent ending certainly came across as needless human debris yet there was one person who cared for him (at least somewhat) and we were never enabled to understand why. After all, that might have given the victim another facet to his character that would have interfered with our loathing. I realize this will come across as over-analyzing and otherwise excellent movie. However, I came away feeling like this was a mondern day remake of "Billy Jack" with improved writing, acting and directing and one tenth of the cliches.

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  • Incredible story
    Billy Bob Thornton's haunting tale has long been a favorite of mine. This man has an awesome talent. ...more info
  • Excellent, big hearted film
    "That Frank, he lives inside of his own heart. That's an awful big place to live in."

    So gravels Karl, Billy Bob Thornton's unique husky-voiced creation as he describes the inner character of his friend and surrogate son- the innocent and pure Frank. Thornton could easily use this line to describe the broad and embracing spirit of his award-winning 1996 directorial debut, the contemporary classic SLINGBLADE.

    Originally released in the halcyon days of independent film-making, the bygone era known as the 90's, SLINGBLADE deftly and eerily combines the wholesome everyman small town ideals of a Norman Rockwell painting with the morbid Southern Gothic tone of William Faulkner's best prose.

    Filming in and around his Arkansasian home town, Thornton pulls off a creative hat trick - expanding his one man play and short film into a feature length celebration of salvation through grace and atonement through blood as staged in the backwoods and clapboard houses of rural America.

    As a Director, Thornton holds his camera in capricious long shots and expanded takes, allowing his characters to exist in an exaggerated time and space, thereby empowering his actors to explore the nuances of their shadowy lives and share freely of their expansive hearts. Yes all of these people have secrets- Thornton rarely saturates his frame with full light. Bands of shadow wash across every character. Everybody has flaws- potential for good and evil in equal measure- even the villainous Doyle Hargraves (deliciously played by country-western star Dwight Yokum), deserving of Book of Revelation retribution as any character in recent memory, has his moments of vulnerability. The tragic wide-eyed ten year old Frank (played without any cloying sentiment by Lucas Black) too is capable of sudden violence when defending his mother.

    Thornton shows he trusts his actors. With his continual use of long unbroken takes, he doesn't artificially create performances through imposed editing. These actors embrace the loud silences and large spaces and time and, as a result, appear to truly and organically erupt in moments of joy, compassion, humor and rage- all in the gentle lilting brogue of a brown water Arkansas drawl. The ensemble cast, made up of professionals (John Ritter in a heart-breakingly humane and admirable performance) and locals (several non-actors appear in effective support), alike never fail to hold the camera's eye.

    The film is violent, but tastefully so. The bloodiest moments are reserved for off camera-employing the audience's imaginations to create far more vibrant images than any camera could provide- a lesson too many of Thornton's contemporaries forgot. The most violent and jarring moments occur in Thornton's elliptical dialogue. He understands the power of word pictures. He also displays a brilliant ability to oscillate a scene from chilling to hilarious to tragic on a turn of a phrase.

    And at the center of this dark fairy tale is Thornton himself, transformed completely into the character of Karl Childers- a middle aged man recently released from "the nervous hospital". A literary descendent of The Frankenstein Monster, Lennie Small, Forrest Gump and Boo Radley (brilliantly realized in one of filmdom's most obscure "in jokes"- Robert Duvall appears unbilled as Childers' father), Karl rubs his hands with Lady MacBeth syndrome in guilt. With his high-water pants and hunched-over gait, centering himself from the bottom of his chin and speaking in a growling and grunting exhale Childers lends himself to instant imitation. But what no imitator can ever capture is the calm benevolence lurking behind Thornton's brown eyes.

    Thornton's Karl Childers is one of the greatest characters ever created for film. Like the fatherless Frank, the simple minded Childers is pure of heart and in a state of grace and yet he possesses a terrifying capacity for violence. For inside those loving and forgiving eyes lies too a direct portal into what Karl himself would call "Hades". He is simple sure. But he is not simplistic. His heart, like the story-world he lives in is "an awful big place to live in."

    An unforgettable film.

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