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Sling Blade (1996)

R | | Drama | 14 March 1997 (USA)
Trailer
1:51 | Trailer
Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.

Director:

Billy Bob Thornton

Writers:

Billy Bob Thornton (play), Billy Bob Thornton (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,316 ( 121)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bob Thornton ... Karl Childers
Dwight Yoakam ... Doyle Hargraves
J.T. Walsh ... Charles Bushman
John Ritter ... Vaughan Cunningham
Lucas Black ... Frank Wheatley
Natalie Canerday ... Linda Wheatley
James Hampton ... Jerry Woolridge
Robert Duvall ... Karl's Father
Rick Dial Rick Dial ... Bill Cox
Brent Briscoe ... Scooter Hodges
Christine Renee Ward ... Melinda (as Christy Ward)
Sarah Boss Sarah Boss ... Marsha Dwiggins
Kathy Sue Brown Kathy Sue Brown ... Theresa Evans
Wendell Rafferty Wendell Rafferty ... Melvin
Bruce Hampton Bruce Hampton ... Morris (as Col. Bruce Hampton Ret.)
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Storyline

A partially handicapped man named Karl is released from a mental hospital, about 20 years after murdering his mother and another person. Karl is often questioned if he will ever kill again, and he shrugs in response saying there is no reason to. Now out of the mental institution, Karl settles in his old, small hometown, occupying himself by fixing motors. After meeting a young boy named Frank, who befriends him, Karl is invited to stay at Frank's house with his mother Linda, who views Karl as a strange but kind and generous man. However, Linda's abusive boyfriend, Doyle, sees things differently in the way rules ought to be run- normally insulting Linda's homosexual friend Vaughan as well as Karl's disabilities, and having wild parties with his friends. As Karl's relationship with Frank grows, he is watchful of Doyle's cruel actions. Written by commanderblue

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A simple man. A difficult choice. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, including descriptions of violent and sexual behavior | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Karl says "alright then" nineteen times. See more »

Goofs

All of the items in Karl's father's back yard, namely the bed spring and tires, are spotless and rust free. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Jerry Woolridge: I won't lie to you. He did get into that trouble a while ago, but then we has young.
Bill Cox: I remember well. He cut those folks to pieces and his Mama was one of them.
Scooter: And that old Dixon boy. Oh, hell, I always wanted to kill him myself. Asshole's what he was. But I remember that ol' boy too. Kinda retarded or somethin', back in school.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits start about 18 minutes into the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Darlin'
Written and Performed by Bambi Lee Savage
Courtesy of Daniel Lanois, Bambi Lee Savage Music Inc./BMI, Daniel Lanois Songs/Socan
See more »

User Reviews

 
Memorable Movie about the Heart
24 January 2015 | by fawn_janeSee all my reviews

After watching this movie, I just think, "wow, I'll never forget this..."

You just have to see to understand. The plot is nothing riveting on paper. The merit of this movie is all about the wonderful acting performances. Besides Billy-Bob of course, I especially thought the actor who played the young boy was amazing. Ritter's portrayal of a flaming gay man is charming without being over-the-top.

I can see someone disliking the movie, it is kind of slow-paced, and full of simple, unglamorous southern people living their unglamorous lives.

To me this movie is about how difficult it is to live in this dangerous, complicated world with an open heart. It's about the banality of evil, and the struggle to cope with a world that's full of that evil: A world where the employer abuses the worker, then the worker comes home and beats his kid, and then the kid grows up to be someone who continues the cycle. A world where those with mental disabilities have nowhere to go, and where mothers are forced to depend on abusers to provide for themselves and their kids.

Karl is supposed to be "mentally challenged" and "different", but I interpret his role as representing the inner child inside of all of us. Throughout the movie he demonstrates a simple kind of wisdom, he is the voice of common-sense. I thought the movie would be about him getting into conflicts due to misunderstanding, or people rejecting him. Instead his character behaves quite rationally, and he is adept at connecting with and winning the trust of the people around him. He acts odd but he demonstrates a level of social intelligence that many "normal" people lack. His characteristic tone of voice seems to represent someone who speaks from their gut, but is struggling and subconsciously hesitant to express themselves because they are just so full of feeling that they just shut down somewhere along the line because they had nowhere appropriate to direct and express all that emotional energy.

Watching Thornton play Karl is touching because it connects you that simple, innocent, yet dangerous part of yourself. The heart of you that just wants to live life, enjoy the simple things, the part of you that dares to long for a world where children don't suffer, where there are answers and justice.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sling Blade See more »

Filming Locations:

Haskell, Arkansas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$28,139, 1 December 1996

Gross USA:

$24,444,121

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$24,444,121
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Miramax, Shooting Gallery See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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