Blu-ray Review: SLING BLADE

Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Release date: Aug 4th, 2009
MSRP: $34.99

Director: Billy Bob Thorton
Writer: Billy Bob Thorton
Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh, John Ritter, Lucas Black

As I prepared to watch SLING BLADE, I wondered if it really was as great as I remembered it. Since then, Billy Bob Thornton’s career has been a mixed bag. Some good, some bad. Perhaps Sling Blade was simply a good film that caught us by surprise.

Not a chance, SLING BLADE is still every bit as fine as I remembered it.

While Thornton’s career has been mainly acting, he did not simply star in SB, but wrote and directed it as well. Watching it, both the script and direction have the feel of a long-time pro rather than new talent. The Academy agreed and gave him an Oscar for best original screenplay.

Thornton stars as Karl, a mentally impaired man who is about to be released from a mental hospital. Karl has been there since he was in his teens. He murdered his mother and her lover after walking in on them. The film is named for the weapon he used.

A hospital administrator finds Karl a job at a local repair shop. He soon meets, and befriends, a boy named Frank (Lucas Black). Frank’s mother Linda (Natalie Canderday) offers him a place to stay. Linda and Frank, along with Linda’s friend Vaughn (John Ritter), a gay shopkeeper, become a sort of surrogate family for Karl.

So everything sounds nice and happy, right? Well here comes the film’s conflict: Linda has a rather cruel, and often drunk, dirtbag of a boyfriend named Doyle (Dwight Yoakam). Doyle treats Linda like crap, and Frank even worse, and mocking both Vaughn and Karl to no end.

All parties involved do an excellent job acting. You would think that Dwight Yoakm has been an abusive drunk all his life, and John Ritter is excellent. Thornton has overshadowed the rest of the cast with his performance. He seems to undergo a complete transformation to become Karl. His voice, his face and even how he carries himself. But without the stellar acting by Ritter, Black and Yokam, this film would not hold up. They help fill out this amazing world that Thornton has brought us to.

This disc brings over plenty of nice extras from previous releases. Anyone that has any interest in SLING BLADE will be more than satisfied. We get a commentary track by Thorton as well as an hour+ peice on him. The extras clock in at over 3 hours.

One complaint is that the collector’s edition featured the director’s cut, which was 12 minutes longer. It would have been nice to have that here.

Order SLING BLADE on Blu-ray
Jeremy Lynch