REVIEWED VERSION: 2009 Miramax US Blu-Ray
Director: Billy Bob Thornton
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh, John Ritter, Lucas Black, Natalie Canerday, Rick Dial
Production: US 1996
Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) has been in an Arkansas mental hospital since age of 12 for killing his mother and her lover - he actually thought the man was raping his mother. 20 years later he is deemed fit to be released into the outside world to start a new life in a small town.
Karl befriends a young boy, Frank (Lucas Black), and meets Karl's mother (Natalie Canerday) and her abusive boyfriend Doyle Hargraves (Dwight Yoakam). As Karl and Frank become closer friends, Doyle becomes more and more abusive and poses a serious threat to Frank and his mother...
THE PROS & CONS
SLING BLADE is without a doubt one of the best movies ever made. It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, which it won and Best Actor (Thornton). It was made on a budget of $1,000,000 and grossed $24,444,121.
SLING BLADE is Billy Bob Thornton's full-length movie directing debut and he did a great job at it. He went on making the great ALL THE PRETTY HORSES.
What makes SLING BLADE a masterpiece however, is the superb cast: every single main cast member delivers a stunning performance, be it Dwight Yoakam as Doyle, whom you could just punch in the face repeatedly, John Ritter as the gay store manager, Lucas Black as Frank or Natalie Canerday as Frank's mother, it is Billy Bob Thornton however who completely steals the show. The fact that Billy Bob Thornton did NOT win the Best Actor Academy Award is one of the biggest mistakes in the Oscar history (and they have made so many)! I've seen a few of Thornton's movies before, and I barely recognized him in SLING BLADE, in which he delivers an amazing performance, and I mean AMAZING! I never would have thought him capable of such.
The script/screenplay by Billy Bob Thornton is flawless: Thornton created deep, real, three dimensional characters that actually "live", just brilliant. Most characters grow on you, you begin to love them. (Hey, Tarantino, THIS is a clever script with BRILLIANT characters! Come, watch how it's done!)
Despite the title of the film SLING BLADE is not a violent movie at all, there are no on-screen killings, the higher ratings result from the language used in the film.
Overall, SLING BLADE is a film that you will be amazed by from beginning to end and it is one of the very few films that come without flaws. I don't remember what film won the Best Movie Academy Award that year, but I sure believe SLING BLADE deserved it more! Highly recommended!
ON A SIDE NOTE
- based on the 1994 short film SOME FOLKS CALL IT A SLING BLADE which was directed by George Hickenlooper and written by Billy Bob Thornton, who also played Karl
- Billy Bob Thornton wrote the role of Vaughan Cunningham specifically for John Ritter
- to make his walk more awkward and consistent, Billy Bob Thornton placed crushed glass in his shoes
- Billy Bob Thornton considers Sling Blade to be the greatest movie he has ever made
- filmed mainly in Arkansas, except for the street scenes which were filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Feature running time: 134:40 mins. (uncut)
MPAA Rating: R (strong language, including descriptions of violent and sexual behavior)
BBFC Rating: 15 (strong language and moderate violence)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1, Spanish 2.0, German DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English HoH, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, German, Thai?, Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese (traditional), Bulgarian, turkish
Extras: Audio Commentary, Mr. Thornton Goes To Hollywood (66:51), Bravo Profiles: Billy Bob Thornton (43:26), Roundtable Discussion (75:25), A Conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall (8:31), A Conversation with Robert Duval (7:35), A Conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and Composer Daniel Lanois (22:59), The Return of Karl (3:40), On The Set 3 Featurettes (4:39) (1:46) (1:53), "Doyle's Dead" with Introduction by Thornton (4:23), several trailers to other movies
Region: Region Free
Picture quality: 4/5
Audio quality: 4/5
A good Blu-Ray offers a really good picture quality and a good DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. There's well over three hours of very informative bonus material and and an unusual amount of subtitles.