• R, 2 hr. 14 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Billy Bob Thornton
    In Theaters:
    Nov 27, 1996 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jan 1, 1998
  • Miramax Films

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Sling Blade Reviews

Page 1 of 136
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

February 11, 2013
Its a Hollywood gimme: feature a mentally/physically challenged soul as the central character in a picture and, bingo, Oscar time. And the twist? We learn to forgive and love ourselves through the big, wide open heart of the poor pathetic lug who's more human than us despite their infirmities. In this one the crazy murderering guy who's actually been committed turns out to be the nicest guy in the town! Thornton went Hollywood with this ... and never looked back. Yoakam's good as the bad guy, too.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

July 24, 2006
This is the film that made Billy Bob Thornton an icon. He pulls triple duty as the star, writer, and director (his debut in this particular area) of this haunting tale based on an acclaimed short film he also authored and starred in.

Set in a small Arkansas town, we follow Karl Childers (Thornton) a mildly retarded man who, for the past 25 years has been in a state hospital for murder. He's deemed stable, and released back into the world. We follow him as he returns to the town he grew up in a d tries to move on with his life. He begins a friendship with a young boy, his mother, and her gay friend. Things get greatly hampered thanks to the mother's vile, alcoholic, and abusive boyfriend, and it's not long before Karl realizes that a change is in order.

The character of Karl is one of the most fascinating and memorable ever. I can't help but break out my imitation of him every time I see this movie, or hear it mentioned. He's just a joy to watch, and he's got a really interesting take on the world that is great to experience. He's not the only one who shines here though. J.T. Walsh is chilling as a fellow patient at the hospital, John Ritter is great as the gay friend Vaughan, and Dwight Yoakam is terrific as the loathsome boyfriend.

The film is equal parts funny, sad, and unnerving. It's extremely compelling and unforgettable, and makes for a great watch, although it's probably not something you really want to endure all that often, as it does get very uncomfortable to bear at times.

This one really impresses me, and it's a shame that Thornton hasn't reached the level of greatness that he does here since.
Dan S

Super Reviewer

September 17, 2009
A depressing, arresting character story involving a former killer, who is let back into society once he serves his time. Billy Bob Thornton's incredibly restrained performance is what keeps this movie interesting, he creates a character so broken from his former life, and now his new one, that the only thing that matters in his life (that being Lucas Black's character) is worth fighting for. You'll probably see the ending coming from a mile away, but it is definitely a fitting one. Great acting all-around, from Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, John Ritter, and Lucas Black as the boy who befriends Thornton, this is an impressive movie. Don't watch it if you don't like sad stories, this is definitely a somber tale of a man who doesn't know where he fits in a world that is "to big" for him, as he says himself.
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

July 8, 2012
Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade is a near perfect drama with an incredible cast. Of all his films, this is the best film that I've seen Thornton star in. I thought that this was a compelling drama that was superbly well acted, and possessed a great story as well. This is a terrific film that should be seen. Thornton plays Karl Childers a retarded middle aged man who killed his mother and lover. This is a brilliant film that has an engaging story. The films actors are wonderful, and Thornton's acting and directing are almost perfect. This is a near perfect drama that is entertaining from start to finish. I thought that the film is one of Thornton's greatest films, and he proves that he is able to take on a more serious role. The film is wonderful and manages to be a memorable film. Sling Blade boasts some powerful performances from its cast, and it's what makes this film stand out. If you're in the mood for a stellar drama film, then give this film a look. With a brilliant cast, great story and great directing, Sling Blade is a must see for serious film fans. This is an almost perfect film, and with performances that really stand out, Sling Blade has stood the test of time after all these years. This is a well crafted film, and one of the best drama films of the 90's. Sling Blade is a near perfect piece of cinema, and is Billy Bob Thornton's finest hour as an actor. A stunning film that is quite unforgettable, Sling Blade has heart and charm due to the great performance of Thornton. A film that is hard to forget.
Clintus M.
Clintus M.

Super Reviewer

May 10, 2012
Billy Bob Thornton's tour-de-force is one of the most memorable movies I've ever seen. It is not a comedy. Although my friends and I love to mimic Karl's voice and do quotes for laughs, there's actually very little to laugh about in this southern gothic drama. Whatever you think of Billy Bob Thornton, Slingblade is an unforgettable masterpiece; the writing, Karl's speech and walk, as well as the rest of the ensemble are some of the greatest in history. Maybe most significant is that although I've never met anyone resembling Karl Childers, the whole film has a frighteningly believable aura to it.

While Thornton's Karl Childers is obviously the central character, other actors contributed mightily to the overall success of the film. The addition of John Ritter and Dwight Yokam to the cast provides both mainstream appeal and tremendous depth to the story. Even the lesser characters, James Hampton as Jerry- the administrator at the "nervous hospital", Natalie Canerday as Linda, and Rick Dial as "Bill Cox add distinctive local color and realism to the ensemble. Lucas Black as Frank Wheatley is probably my other favorite. The surrogate father-son relationship creates an unforgettable emotional attachment, cementing this film as so much more than a usual small town oddball story. The stark contrast between Karl's relationship with his father and the one he develops with Frank provides the emotional centerpiece to this both shocking and tender film. It's a masterpiece of southern storytelling from Thornton's twisted genius.

Billy Bob Thornton contributes this masterpiece to the finest southern literary tradition. I am reminded of a quotation by the eminent author Flannery O'Connor, "Whenever I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one." The slow-moving, mentally challenged Karl stands in contrast to Doyle, Karl's father, and the sex criminal inmate. Slingblade won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay- Thornton adapted his own earlier work, and Thornton was nominated for Best Actor.
Sanjay R

Super Reviewer

October 25, 2011
A nice story with a masterful performance by Billy Bob Thornton. The movie is very slowly paced, but an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
DreamExtractor
DreamExtractor

Super Reviewer

August 29, 2011
Sling Blade is a pure masterpiece, and is Billy Bob Thortons best performance ever. The plot is a work of genius, it follows a man named Karl and his long journey to self peace, and to help a young boy have the life Karl never got, and it is hard to describe just how good it was and how well made it was. Billy Bob Thorton has made a character that is so interesting, so funny, and so memorable that his performance may be one of the best of all time. This movie had everything we want from a film, great story, great cast, and amazing protagonist, and although the film is slow at many scenes, the first few minutes of the film are a work of genius and the rest of the film is something you will never soon forget, I loved it.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

January 3, 2011
Billy Bob Thorton's performance as Karl Childers is by far one of the greatest pieces of acting in a movie. His complete and utter believability is outrageous, he truly became a different person. Not only that, but a person that very well could exist in the real world. The mannerisms, speech patterns and attitude is just amazing to watch. Not only that, but his directing is as equally strong. This feels almost like a David Lynch movie in that it's so awkward about being normal, much like Karl himself. The story is so powerful and important, it's impossible to not sympathize and fall in love with the characters. On top of that, it has some of the most memorable lines spoken in any movie. It's almost addictive.
familiar s

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2009
Loads of people appreciated & recommended this, but I found it nothing much above average. Fairly watchable, but not a "must watch" IMHO.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2009
Billy Bob Thornton is as good a director as he is an actor and he proves it in Sling Blade (well, at least he does as far as the directing goes). This is a really good film. It?s a shame Lucas Black grew up though as he was much better as a child actor.
Jason O

Super Reviewer

September 14, 2009
"I like some dem french fried taterz, mm hmm." Awesome, awesome movie, and everyone I know in person agrees. Always reminded me of "Forrest Gump."
Luke B

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2009
Billy Bob Thronton writes, directs and stars in this very moving and very human drama. Thornton plays Carl, a man just released from a psychiatric hospital after killing his mother and her lover, when he was just 12 years old. Carl is a simple man, but like many films, he has plenty of knowledge to share with those around him, even if they don't realise it. Ritter gets the best material, and shows himself to be the legendary talent that he was. He plays gay without being ridiculous. Thornton remembers to serve the comedy, drama and tension in small doses throughout, making this a surprisingly edgy watch. It's shot with great restraint, long takes letting the action evolve in front of us.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
LorenzoVonMatterhorn

Super Reviewer

November 18, 2008
"Sometimes a hero comes from the most unlikely place."

Karl Childers, now a grown man, is released from a psychiatric hospital where he has been hospitalized since the age of 12 for the murder of his mother and her lover. He returns to his childhood town and although being mentally handicapped, gets a job fixing small motors at a local repair shop. Karl befriends a young boy, Frank, and is soon invited by Frank's mother, Linda, to move into the family's garage. As a strong relationship develops between Karl and Frank, a confrontation builds with Linda's abusive and sometimes violent boyfriend Doyle.

Review
The film that made Billy Bob Thornton. Sling Blade brought out the best in him and this is Billy Bob sans Mr. Woodcock sans School for Scoundrels and whatever low class comedy he's made. He took a challenging dramatic role and he nails it in the coffin. I must admit, I wasn't expecting him to be this superb, I guess I underestimated the guy. Billy Bob just came out of nowhere with his explosive performance as reformed criminal/mentally challenged Karl Childers. One can only wonder how he ended up in tasteless movies and tedious comedies. Not only did he act but he also directed and wrote the film. Nothing more can be said other than, he really was passionate about this project and it shows when you see the movie. Great script, great cast and great performances all around.

This is Billy Bob's shining moment and is undoubtedly the highest point of his career and credits is where credits due but you just can't help but also notice the support cast which includes Dwight Yoakam as the fiend of a step dad to a very young Lucas Black's character Frank. Black and Billy Bob glued perfectly on screen and you'll just love hating Yoakam's menacing performance. All in all, a brilliant film with powerful performances and quite possibly the best film of 1996.
Drew S

Super Reviewer

September 25, 2007
Ah, the "mentally retarded" movie. No other subject of film can end up being either unabashedly manipulative (Radio, I Am Sam) or as rewarding as Sling Blade.

More later.
DragonEyeMorrison
DragonEyeMorrison

Super Reviewer

September 25, 2007
Red-states-Bush-loving america in a nutshell.
Jason S

Super Reviewer

September 8, 2007
A good character study mixed with a good story. I recommend this one as we get to see a side of Billy Bob's acting that I haven't seen since.
Daniel J D

Super Reviewer

July 24, 2007
This movie has some serious depth to it and the most believable portrayal of a mentally retarded person I've seen, to-date.
Nani V

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2007
For the longest I never knew Billy Bob Thornton was Sling Blade...excellent acting!
Rachel F

Super Reviewer

June 25, 2007
Billy Bob Thornton's best role. This is a brilliant but sad movie. Everyone should see this at least once.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2007
Wow! Billy Bob Thornton's performance in this film was amazing. Billy Bob, not only starred in this amazing film but also wrote and directed it and hit the jackpot on all three. It's a long viewing, but most certainly needed, great performances all around.
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