I rented this having never heard of the film and going solely with my gut that Oldman would not disappoint. He doesn't. He turns in one of his most original and unexpected performances in this small but hilarious film. Knowing I'd be watching it again, I went out and found a new copy for $5!!!
A huge surprise came in the performance of Billy by Skeet Ulrich. Taking a fairly bland character and making him come alive, with the added job of having to play straight man to Oldman's over-the-top Buford, could not have been easy. Ulrich shows his acting chops and creates an instantly likeable goon. You find yourself immediately routing for the not-too-bright little bumpkin. When one realizes that he's the smarter of these pair of life-long friends and minor criminals there's little wonder that they've spent half their lives in jail. (One touching "tell" is when, along with the baby of the title Billy is asked to take have a picture snapped he automatically turns for a standard profile mug shot. Nice touches like abound throughout the film.)
A veritable smorgasbord of an ensemble is featured in the trailerpark misfits who adopt Billy and his new baby; Radha Mitchell; Mary Steenburgen, Gordon Tootoosis, Anna Gunn and the resident bad guy, Peter Green. Even two small but very important roles are filled by no less than Ed O'Neil and Matthew Modine!
Ulrich's Billy cements the entire film narrating as a series of letters to his precious "Little One" relating the tale of how she one day came into his life and changed his world and saved him.
While this is for the most part a gentle comedy, it is punctuated with a little violence, brief nudity and some truly black comedy (such as how Billy gets his new baby) which has evidently disturbed some viewers of the film. (Personally I found these dark moments hilarious.) Ultimately a very heartwarming and uplifting picture. I ended up buying the thing. Oh, yeah: stick around for the credits and watch Mary Steenburgen and Gary Oldman do a little line dancin' together . . . it's a hoot!
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