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Jayne Mansfield's Car
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Reviews & Ratings for
Jayne Mansfield's Car More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Fifty Years, Three Wars, Two Continents....

10/10
Author: (linda_ball@lbffp.com) from Austin, Texas
26 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...through a handful of characters over a period of a few days.

Nails our uneasy relationship with life and death and war and heroics and cowardice and what history has to bludgeon us with. I particularly liked the ending because it punctuated the tale with a moment that really summed up Viet Nam and 1969 for me. (That's only a bit of a spoiler....)

Characters are brilliantly drawn and the movie is dark to the point that a power outage is created to emphasize it. But there's a ray of light there where people see beyond their noses and into others' hearts and across oceans.

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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Fathers, Sons, War, Death

8/10
Author: bob_meg from United States
16 December 2013

I was a bit shocked at how much negative press Billy Bob Thornton's latest effort has received in the mainstream critical media. It's been called racist, homophobic, grating, and stereotypically one-note. Perhaps these reviewers couldn't take the time to appreciate the delicate patina glazed onto the top of this heavy Southern Gothic brew, not only by some stellar star turns, but from Thornton and Tom Epperson's sly, knowing script that bravely refuses to villainize any of the array of characters, no matter how crass or pig-headed their behavior first appears.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of Thornton when he first appeared with the break-out "Sling Blade," even though the short it was culled from was anything but slight. I thought he'd be one of these rural "artistes" who falls back on sentimentality and clichéd characters when he didn't have much to say. Jayne Mansfield's Car, however, proves that glib assessment was dead, dead wrong.

The strongest aspect of this film is it's script, which does what every extraordinary movie does well: drops you into another place and time that---at first glance, anyway---you'd ordinarily shrug your shoulders and walk away from, then gives you every reason you shouldn't: it's populated with people who are confused, conflicted, and multi-faceted to the point where they don't seem to recognize each other any more, even after living in the same house for decades.

The casting is impeccable and Thornton has an incredibly light-touch with all of them. Robert Duvall does what he does best: providing the anchoring figure of Jim Senior with an authority and gravitas that he can express with a lift of an eyebrow. His three sons are wrought over a nice spectrum of angst: Thornton's Skip, the ne'er do well middle son who did everything right but was always a bit too "off" to be dad's shining star. That honor went to Jimbo (Jim Jr., a ferocious Robert Patrick) who played closer to the mold but never saw combat as Skip and Carroll (Kevin Bacon) did, thus considering himself a failure. Skip and Carroll live with scars and resentments from their own tours of duty in WWII and Vietnam, respectively and their anti-war sentiments continue to draw them further from Duvall, in every sense of the word.

Even though the crux of the drama revolves around the return of Duvall's wayward recently deceased wife (Tippi Hedren, a pretty darn good corpse), who divorced him for Englishmen John Hurt 15 years before, the canvas of this film is really about the tortured relations between fathers and sons, and the cost of war and death and what it "means to be a man." The War angle is particularly intriguing in that it plays out in the heart of Alabama in the late-sixties, where the malingering odor of Vietnam melts into the residues of a century of warfare, the star of which is the ghost of the Civil War.

The culture-clash aspect is amusing and well-played, but not even remotely why you should see the movie. The script ensures you know the characters so well, that all that formulaic hicks-meet-Brits stuff quickly goes by the wayside.

Thornton and Epperson's script gives each character a suitable bravura moment and most hit them out of the park, in particular Thornton, in a touching monologue delivered to Frances O'Connor in the forest and Bacon, whose hippie malcontent faces off with Duvall with quiet dignity and aplomb.

This is not a film to hang on for forced drama, but it's one you'll have a difficult time turning away from and an even harder time leaving, from the place where you so unceremoniously were dropped.

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

One of the best character studies in years

10/10
Author: jonederland from Houston, TX
29 August 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The characters were fleshed out and I felt the pain and joy of each one. The attention to detail as far as representing 1969 gave me a flashback. I have always loved the leads, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon and Billy Bob Thornton, but I think this was an exceptional portrayal by each person. The Brits, John Hurt and his children were also played with such passion. The statement this movie made about war and marijuana use were not in your face, but makes you think and that is not a bad thing. The music was exceptionally well made. Set in a beautiful home and beautiful scenery did not hurt in any way!

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Duval Masterful, O'Connor sexy, Thornton ridiculous and sad.

8/10
Author: edborden123 from United States
8 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Duvals performance as the introspective, typical unemotional parent of the 50's/60's was masterful. Bacon gave his usual great performance as the hippy son. Thornton's southern ignoramus and the American brash personality clashing with the proper brits was a great storyline. Ron White's performance was great...he played himself. The guy who played the liquid terminater is great too... I loved it. Several story lines within the same family all moving forward in a similar direction. The setting is in the south. It is unclear exactly where. I didn't need to see Billy Bob Thornton naked, but I guess it was important to the storyline.. LOL. "she could take it right up to the gills" is one of billy bobs quotes...

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22 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

best USA movie of 2013

10/10
Author: tommexico from United States
20 October 2013

it is unfortunate that a work of such talented writing and acting is not able to succeed at the box office. if you are looking for special effects and fast action and violence then this is not probably to your liking. it is a masterful presentation of complex characters and complex relationships. realistic and accurate in it's appraisals and portrayals. provides a unique insight into life in the Southern US during this time period. performances by Duvall and Thornton are award winning and the entire supporting cast was superb. the plot does seem to ramble some but we are never brought into scenes that are not captivating and worth viewing

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Great story. Superb directing!

7/10
Author: alden51 from Vancouver
30 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Clearly not for everyone, this movie was wonderful nonetheless. Great story! Wonderful directing. Really well drawn and distinct characters. Billy Bob's acting, as usual, was stellar. There aren't many actors who could make his crazy, touching, man child character believable. Robert Duvall and John Hurt were fantastic. The only flaw was the part where Robert Duvall's character takes LSD - it was weak right from the beginning and only got more tiresome as it went on and on. Kevin Bacon was the weak link. He is good ... but not great. His scenes are like lead balloons. There is one scene at the end where the brothers share a joint and Bacon obviously doesn't know what he should be doing. The other performances were solid however.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Well played and exceptionally directed

9/10
Author: nar8008 from California
1 January 2014

So good to see Billy Bob Thornton back in the director's chair. I don't think anyone has as pinpoint an accuracy to the south of the United States as Thornton does in the modern idiom of film. The ensemble cast is amazing and authentically played by all. Loved the truth of characters with inseparable bond; so much organic glue like the humidity of the time and setting.Each character is fully formed, carrying with them a wealth of circumstances that we understand almost from the first introduction, furthermore, develops to full intricate discovery. I loved the juxtaposition expressed between the despairing union of opposing cultures.How wonderful the interplay between John Hurt and Duvall, the likeness of familial hierarchy they wear so naturally.

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32 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Jane Mansfields Car

10/10
Author: Bmcine from United States
15 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I ran into some luck the other day when I found myself invited to see a great film dated in the Sixties and taking place in the good ol South....Jane Mansfields Car ......Looks like Billy Bob Thorton has yet again given us all more than a handful of great stuff...BBT..R.Duvall..John Hurt..and Kevin Bacon. And Robert Patrick...These guys hit it out of the park..The writing is Top Shelf..All I can add is. Ya all gotta see it for yourselves..This is not a Hollywood Flick...When I went to see Slingblade years ago I realized that there are to few good scripts out there and the ones that are being made are for the masses so to speak...Many great writings never really translate well onto a script..When a good piece of material comes along most of the time it's an original screen play...The Apostle is an example of that..Mr Duvall worked many long hours writing and re writing until it saw the light of day...Billy Bob did it with Sling Blade as well as Daddy and Them...Enough said go see...Just read a review on this page that was so negative that one must believe this guy is s self hating southern boy..A very sad sad little man indeed...thank younall form reading.. Jane Mansfields Car...Enjoy it..I know I had a blast...Thank You ...Beryla

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Heads role in this car wreck of a film

1/10
Author: gregeichelberger from San Diego
20 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Jayne Mansfield's Car" is a tedious, depressing dysfunctional film about a tedious, depressing, dysfunctional pair of families, headed by patriarchs Robert Duvall and John Hurt, respectively.

It seems that 30 years before, Kingsley Bedford (Hurt) stole Jim Caldwell's (Duvall) wife, Naomi (Tippi Hedren, whose most famous role was in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds") and took her to England. Upon her death, and after honoring her request to be buried in her native Alabama, the two groups get together and relive just about every stereotypical situation involving these divergent bodies from sitcoms to equally bad motion pictures.

It's also a movie where the title makes no sense whatsoever, except to fool this critic into actually thinking the plot was about the last few days and death of blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield, who perished in an automobile accident in New Orleans in 1967 (her three children, including "Law & Order: SVU" actress Mariska Hargitay, survived in the back seat).

There is a very loose connection with this movie to that death car, but THAT story would have made a much better and much more interesting film than this disjointed, disheveled, direction-less and pointless misadventure which seems to be played at 33 1/3 RPM and was helmed and written by Billy Bob Thornton (who also stars and has efforts like "Sling Blade" and "All the Pretty Horses" to his credit, although one would not deduce that from this travesty).

Caldwell's clan consists of backwoods redneck rejects like Navy pilot Skip (Thornton, looking like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Fred MacMurray with terminal cancer), the idiotic Jimbo (Robert Patrick, "Gangster Squad"), 50-year old hippie Carroll (Kevin Bacon, "X-Men: First Class," sporting either a very bad wig or an even worse haircut) and annoying used car salesmen and son-in-law, Neal Baron (Blue Collar Tour comedian Ron White), as well as a host of nondescript females and grandchildren.

On the Brit side, Bedford just brings his upper-class twit son, Phillip, (Ray Stevenson, Firefly in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation"), and slutty daughter, Camilla, (Frances O'Connor, "Little Red Wagon"), along to the Alabama sticks in an effort to reprise the old TV series "Green Acres." When combined, there's enough cracker barrel corn pone dialogue in "Jayne Mansfield's Car" to fill three seasons of "Hee Haw," and forced drama that would make the producers of "Dynasty" and "Knots Landing" cringe.

Meanwhile, the families' attempts to mix and interact socially is as awkward as Barack Obama teaching a college course on the history of Syria. And, despite the legitimate anger the Caldwell's feel for the Bedfords, Skip nevertheless comes onto Camilla in a most ridiculous and embarrassing way (making Bill Clinton's advances look like the height of courtly honor; although later she recites the "Charge of the Light Brigade" for him totally naked while he, uh, pleasures himself), Carroll hangs around the world's squarest hippy commune and ogles creepily as his twenty-something girlfriend dances nude in their shack, and Papa Caldwell get his kicks by interfering at the scene of fatal car wrecks (a ludicrous montage shows various examples of these crashes with victims hanging out of windows causing no end to the unintentional hilarity).

All the while, Jim's promiscuous daughter, Donna (Katherine LaNasa, "The Campaign"), begins flirting with the ponderous Phillip and we find out that the cold-hearted Jim was somehow a World War I veteran and the peacenik Carroll served in WW II. And, to top everything off, the picture boasts one of the single lamest musical groups ever, despite the fact it was supposed to have taken place in the 1960s.

All of these scenes, of course, are meant to show that both clans are Hollyweird types, just quirky enough to be harmless, but nowhere near as clever and intriguing Thornton and co-scribbler Tom Epperson ("Camouflage") hoped they would be.

Holding together (albeit loosely) all of these sad plot lines is the wise-beyond-her-pay-grade servant, Dorothy (Irma P. Hall, "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done"), who fills us all in on the boring back-story. Boring because there is no sympathy, empathy or concern for any of these cretins.

Not one iota of interest is generated by these far-out characters so over-the-top and devoid of any real human qualities as to be less than one-dimensional, if that's even conceivable. Then there is a subplot of a black dude who gets drafted, again, a dilemma which causes no emotional response whatsoever, but does illicit this bland response from Carroll: "A kid like Connell has a dream and he doesn't get a chance to live it."

Hurt (whom some may remember as the guy whose stomach the monster came of in "Alien") was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for "The Elephant Man," Thornton was given a nod for the same prize in "Sling Blade," and Duvall actually won the Oscar for "Tender Mercies," so the acting talent and pedigree is certainly there.

Unfortunately, there is nothing any of these people can do with this tepid script, however. Hurt, though, does have the good sense to pass out at the funeral, thereby giving himself (as well as the audience) a reprieve for a while.

"Jayne Mansfield's Car," which has been left in the film can for more than a year (and certainly smells like it), is enjoying a limited release schedule, but that is only because the producers knew no one would see it with any wider distribution. One would be most prudent and wise to follow their example.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Dark & Bizarre Family Dynamics Play Out in Thorton's Latest

5/10
Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
8 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Set in the small town of Morrison, Alabama, in 1969, the film has an all-star ensemble cast but I felt that the bizarre and dark family dynamics that play out, although well acted, just never congeal into an entertaining or meaningful story. Billy Bob Thorton directs here, and also has a lead role in the movie, as well as co-writing the screenplay with Tom Epperson.

It's set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, which is still raging, and the hippie drug culture that emerged in the 60's. The plot revolves around the rich patriarch of the Caldwell family, Jim Caldwell, portrayed by the great actor Robert Duvall, getting a call from England that his ex-wife Naomi had died, and that per her wishes her new family will accompany her body for burial to Alabama. Naomi had traveled to England many years before, met a man there, and came back to Alabama to leave Jim and the family suddenly and remarry in England to Kingsley Bedford, played by another great actor John Hurt.

This will set up a number of sub-plots as the Bedfords meet the Caldwells for the first time. As mentioned, there's an all-star cast here, with the three sons of Jim being played by such screen notables as Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, and Billy Bob Thorton himself, while Jim's daughter is portrayed by Katherine LaNasa. Kingsley is accompanied to the States by his son Ray Stevenson and his daughter Frances O'Connor.

So with all this talent on screen what's the problem? Well for me, it was that the various strange scenarios that play out mostly didn't work, in my opinion. Some were humorous and interesting, while I thought the majority could be mean-spirited and trying too hard to be over-the-top and strange. The ultimate result for me was that, as mentioned, the movie just never meshed together into anything more than segmented pieces of a film.

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