Review Written by: Everett Lauster
Directed by: Billy Bob Thornton
Written by: Billy Bob Thornton
Based on the play by: Billy Bob Thornton
Produced by: David L. Bushell and Brandon Rosser
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Natalie Canerday, John Ritter, Dwight Yokam, Robert Duvall, J.T. Walsh
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!
Brilliant! Although, it seems any actor who plays a mentally challenged person like Tom Hanks in 1994's Forrest Gump, Sean Penn in 2001's I am Sam gets an Academy Award nomination (at least). However, Billy Bob Thornton in 1996s Sling Blade truly deserves nearly every award there. Yet, he only won Best Adapted Screenplay and got a nomination for Best Actor.
Quiet mentally challenged man, Karl (Billy Bob Thornton) has just been released from a local mental hospital. While relaxing out in the world he hardly knows, he meets a boy named Frank (Lucas Black), his mother (Natalie Canerday) and her homosexual friend (John Ritter). Ritter also starred in an early television show called Hearts Afire with Billy Bob Thorton and agreed to do the part. However, Karl's new found peace and sanctuary slowly begins to turn into hate and relentless anger when the mother's abusive boyfriend (Dwight Yokam, who proves that musicians can also act) shows his true colors for the family. Karl also finds his old and bitter father (Robert Duvall). Although a small part, long time friend Robert Duvall agreed to do any part Billy threw at him.
Sling Blade is one of the greatest movies of the 90's and one of the greatest movies, period. It is both heart shattering and an uplifting tale of human nature. Actor, writer and director Billy Bob Thorton has never been better and continuously proves to be one Hollywood's most creative stars. He respectfully never forgets his roots by staying close to family and friends in his small Arkansas town, where the character Karl came to be. The film gets an "A+."
Disc two is packed with extras including a 16-part documentary called "Mr. Thorton goes to Hollywood" including interviews with cast and friends about Billy getting his start in Los Angeles. Multi-conversations include Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thorton and composer Daniel Lanois. Excellent features and really interesting interviews with the whole cast of Sling Blade get the features an "A-."
Sling Blade is presented in Dolby Digital surround sound which really gives life to the sounds and colours seen throughout the film and played in Widescreen and with Spanish subtitles. The audio gets an "A."
Sling Blade proves time and time again to be effective on all audiences by using laughter, sadness and uplifting character detail. This is one of the greatest films of the 90's and in general.