Jayne Mansfield's Car (2013)



Critic Consensus: Jayne Mansfield's Car assembles an impressive number of talented actors, but the screenplay -- co-written by director and star Billy Bob Thornton -- never gives them much of anything to do.

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Movie Info

In what critics are calling his best work as writer/director since SLINGBLADE, Academy Award (R) winner Billy Bob Thornton stars - along with Oscar (R) winner Robert Duvall, two-time Oscar (R) nominee John Hurt and Golden Globe winner Kevin Bacon - in this story of fathers and sons, wars and peace, and the turbulent time that changed America forever. It's 1969 in a small Alabama town, and the death of a quirky clan's long-estranged wife and mother brings together two very different families for the funeral. But do the scars of the past hide differences that will tear them apart or expose truths that could lead to the most unexpected collisions of all? Robert Patrick (WALK THE LINE), Ray Stevenson ("Dexter"), Frances O'Connor (THE HUNTER), and Katherine LaNasa ("Deception") co-star in the acclaimed comedy/drama that Twitch Film calls "A perfect film for a lazy summer day with near-perfect performances across the board!" (c) Anchor Bay
R (for language, sexual content, nudity, drug use and some bloody images)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Robert Duvall
as Jim Caldwell
John Hurt
as Kingsley Bedford
Kevin Bacon
as Carroll Caldwell
Billy Bob Thornton
as Skip Caldwell
Robert Patrick
as Jimbo Caldwell
Ray Stevenson
as Phillip Bedford
Frances O'Connor
as Camilla Bedford
Shawnee Smith
as Vicky Caldwell
Ron White
as Neal Baron
Tippi Hedren
as Naomi Caldwell
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Critic Reviews for Jayne Mansfield's Car

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (14)

There's a terrific movie struggling to escape from this overplotted, overedited, overdetermined stew ...

Full Review… | September 16, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

With its sprawling array of characters and anecdotal, ramshackle structure, [the film] feels more like a collection of interrelated short stories cobbled into an flavorful but ultimately unwieldy narrative.

Full Review… | September 13, 2013
Top Critic

It's one thing to explore the messiness of familial relationships and regret against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, and something else entirely to try and shove every jot and tiddle in place before the closing credits roll.

Full Review… | September 13, 2013
Top Critic

Jayne Mansfield's Car isn't likely to set America's theaters on fire, but it's a powerful whisper of a film.

Full Review… | September 13, 2013
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Overall, the rambling "Jayne Mansfield's Car" is almost as big a wreck as its namesake.

Full Review… | September 12, 2013
New York Post
Top Critic

In its best moments, you can see what the film might have been with half a dozen fewer characters.

September 12, 2013
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Jayne Mansfield's Car


In "Jayne Mansfield's Car," a woman had run away from her family to start a new one in England. Decades later, she dies. Her last request is to be buried back in her native Alabama which her old family has complicated feelings about, as her new family accompanies her body. "Jayne Mansfield's Car" wastes a very good cast that includes Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Billy Bob Thornton(who also directed and co-wrote), Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, Frances O'Connor and Katherine LaNasa on a cliche-ridden story that just seems satisfied with recycling tired stereotypes about the South(strange, considering Thornton is from Arkansas), the English and the 1960's. In fact, France O'Connor is about the only one of the cast to rise above the occasion. Which is a shame because there are some good thoughts via this family haunted by war that the best way to make someone a pacifist is to drop them in a war zone.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


An all-star cast, in a film written and directed by, and aso starring, Billy Bob Thornton, about a good 'ol boy southern redneck, Jim Caldwell, with a morbid curiosity in fatal car wrecks, played superbly by Robert Duvall, and his eccentric, hugely dysfunctional family, set in 1969. It is also about war and peace, the generation gap, and how family is defined. Big Jim is one cold-hearted sumbitch who at one point laments that his eldest son, who never saw action, turned out to be pretty normal while the younger two, who enlisted, saw heavy action, and came home heroes are mighty screwed up. It is about how different generations see war, based on their experiences. The heat of the small-town Alabama summer just drips off the screen and the dialog seems genuine and unforced. There is a dark humor that trickles in and out of various scenes, which otherwise might have become overbearing and depressing. I thought it a well done film, in spite of one little plot twist toward the end that went off in an absurd direction I liked it. A lot.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Billy Bob Thornton tells stories like a novelist. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that, but when I see a scene that is nothing but flavor in a movie I really want it go somewhere. Like when Kevin Bacon dives in the water with his two nieces: I felt the relief from the heat, but it didn't mean anything and I think in a movie--I mean you don't have all day--every second has to mean something or it reads like a home movie. That's not to say I didn't like the flavor. It means I'm conflicted about this film.

Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

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