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Voyeur in the bayou
jotix10012 July 2004
This film never had a chance as a commercial feature, but it should have been seen in spite of some weak parts. Robby Henson, directing his own material, proves he can tell a good story. If one adds to this the atmosphere of crooked politicians in Louisiana, the possibilities are endless.

The film holds one's interest until one realizes who is the person who killed Mona. The director gives a clue while the sheriff is going in a different direction, either voluntarily, or just to tease us. The other thing that is not resolved is the relationship between Darl and Carla, his stranged wife, and with his daughter, who is hanging out with the wrong crowd.

"The Badge" is a much better film than some of the trash that is being shown these days. The film owes a great deal to Billy Bob Thornton, who is the epitome of this rural sheriff. Mr. Thornton acts instinctively; he is a natural and he makes this character his own.

Also notable in the film is Patricia Arquette, who plays Scarlett, the stripper with a heart in its right place. William Devane's character should have been a lot more slimier because that's what we are expecting of him.

Will look forward to the next film by this promising director.
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Highly enjoyable, solid thriller.
billybrown418 October 2002
Disregarding what others have said about "The Badge" I went into it because I love Billy Bob and had kept track of it during filming, when the original title had been "Behind the Sun". Seeing that the film went straight to cable really didn't surprise me, espescially seeing as how this isn't really for mainstream audiences, but then again, neither was "Monster's Ball". Anyhow, I'm rambling so let me get to the point here. "The Badge" didn't go to theaters because certain people felt that Billy Bob's character (Darl) was too similar to his character Hank in "Monster's Ball". Whatever the reason, I don't really care. At least I got to see it and I AM thankful for that.

"The Badge" tells the story of a Louisiana Parish Sheriff who normally doesn't appreciate gays, but has to put aside his predjudices and personal beliefs to solve a murder of a transexual. Sound strange? Well, it is and it isn't. That depends on what kind of person you are. Personally, I found the movie to be quite accurate in showing the deep south for what it really is. The politics were espescially accurate and it was pretty brave of Robby Henson to delve into that matter as deep as he did. Obviously, this movie isn't just about politics, but the southern and small-town mentality as well. How do I know? Well, I was raised there, so I have a good understanding of how things work down there.

Another thing: While some of the characters have been called "comic book" or "stereotypes", they're pretty accurate as well. Much like in Sling Blade, I felt like I knew some of these people. I also found the plot turns and acting to be very well executed. As far as that goes, no one gives a bad performance here.

All that said, "The Badge" is definitely worth a look.
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worthwhile picture
dracher14 October 2005
Anyone who contributes to the blab that Mr Thornton's characterisation of Darl was too close to his equally excellent characterisation of Hank in Monster Ball is not really contributing, or thinking very deeply. I have said as much before and I will say again here; Mr Thornton is the very best character actor in the US today and one of the best in the world.

It is no surprise to find a great actor tackling scripts that are well out of the main stream, this shows a thinking caring actor who is prepared to take risks and give more credibility to the work than to the star spin offs.

This movie is not a great one, but it is a very worthwhile experience that is, at least, thought provoking and contains some very fine acting from most of it's cast. The only real problem was the writer/director combination. This is not to say that the writing or the direction was bad, on the contrary, the direction particularly was very sound and the writing was fine though a little too "formular" in its shape. It's nearly always a mistake to direct ones own work, like reading ones own poetry, it becomes very hard to let a line go in an instant, when one is aware of how long it took to birth it. The Badge is fine and has some real strengths, its weakness lies in the denouement where there is the sense of a rather obvious ball being suddenly rushed to the goal post before time runs out for the some what staged final scene.

This work is worth the effort on many fronts, B.B.Thornton is excellent and that woman! what a sterling performance she gives in a very difficult role and against all kinds of odds. If you have not seen this movie and are thinking about it, then do it and do it now!
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Gritty Crime Drama about Tolerance and Forgiveness
Edgar L. Davis5 August 2003
Patricia Arquette and Billy Bob Thorton are at their best in this gritty, quasi-noir crime drama set in Louisiana. Thorton's character is similiar to the one that he played in Monster's Ball. This role however was more sympathetic but not as complex. Arquette is good at playing characters that live on the edge but still manage to be morally strong and honest. She also has an extremely potent sex appeal that is simultaneously mature and girlish. The story is a coplex one with lots of twists and turns. There are secrets in the small town of LaSalle Parrish and they are artfully revealed by the director whose style is a little clunky but engaging nonetheless. I recommend this movie. It's message of tolerance is very important and could not have been more clearly stated.
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Sleazy Sleuthing--Cajun Style
EdExtract2 June 2003
This film is a solid bit of detective fiction with a Cajun noir flavor to it. Lots of shady characters trying to manipulate folks in order to keep sleazy secrets hidden get in the way of a sometimes earnest but morally mixed-up Louisiana sheriff.

If you like Raymond Chandler's stories, this should prove pleasing. Yes, the film is paced slowly, but as the sheriff in hot water finally realizes the only way to regain his honor (and perhaps his job) is by solving the case, the action picks up. Billy Bob Thornton gives another perfect performance, and Patricia Arquette is stronger than ever. Very nice directorial touches balance storytelling and artistry very well.

A good evening's entertainment.
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OK...but very slow!!
huggy_bear31 August 2003
What a sleeper. I mean, until two days ago, I had never heard of this movie before. I rented it not knowing how it would turn out. Pleasantly surprised. Pretty straight forward and to the point, a homophobic local sheriff "stumbles" on a murder investigating a traffic accident. The murdered woman turns out not to be a woman at all, but a he/she. Then this movie takes off like a roller coaster, all of which I will not go into detail (go rent it). Some of the things that these lawmen do is absolutely unbelievable, but that is the fun of this one. It is not to be taken too serious.
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Not BBThornton's best
mahajanssen28 June 2003
They should've tried to let the public view this one in the theatres but I guess it wouldn't have made much success considering Monster's Ball totally overshadowed it. There are a lot of similarities between these 2 movies, not just the fact that BBob Thornton is in both, although he was definitely much better in the former. He pulls in a fine one in this movie, as usual but I wouldn't say it's his best role yet. I don't see Patricia Arquette too often so I don't really know how good an actress she is; in this movie, she's passable. William Devane usually plays the villains but this time, he plays a crooked judge but he doesn't really quite have that evil persona that he usually has. I kind of miss that. The other supporting cast members were rather good especially the real murderer. If you're perceptive enough, you'll probably know it's him somewhere along the movie but if not, just watch to the end. The movie might test your patience and seem like it would end in predictability but just sit it out. It's not a great movie but it's a good one.
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Pi on "The Badge"
dan_in_denver8 September 2002
Billy Bob Thornton plays Darl, a homophobic sheriff in Louisiana who finds himself trying to solve the murder of a trans-gender lingerie model named Mona. Mona is survived by his / her wife Scarlett, played by Patricia Arqueutte. At first, Darl is apathetic and indifferent about the case, allowing his prejudices to cloud is professional duties. Complication matters is the fact that the office of sheriff is up for re-election, and the Mayor has decided to run another candidate for the job, unseating Darl as he had done to Darl's father years before. The movie has an excellent plot, and benefits from strong performances from William Devane (who plays the Mayor) and of course from Thornton himself.

Badge is more than just a who-dunnit. It is also a glimpse into a part of our society that many people never see. Don't miss "The Badge". 8/10
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Deeply Flawed But Compelling Alternative Lifestyle Mystery
Bob-4521 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
A young, petite female, obviously terrified runs through the Louisiana Bayou as though she were being pursued by an unseen assailant. An eighteen wheeler sails down the dark road. Suddenly, the young female races across the road in front of the truck. The driver skids to avoid hitting her and truck jackknifes and turns over in a ravine.

Sheriff Billy Bob Thornton, bleary-eyed from a night of boozing, arrives on the scene. He and his deputy find the body of the young female laying nearby in the ravine. She's dead, but not from the truck. She has a 22 slug in her.

To reveal more would ruin a compelling, well acted story of intrigue, sexual ambiguity and political cover-up. However, the only way to fairly review 'The Badge' (terrible title) is to point out some of its flaws and that requires spoilers.


The medical examiner discovers that, in regards to the female victim, 'the lady is no lady'. He's a borderline transgender, that is, his breasts are feminine but he still male sex organs. Here in lies the beginnings of the movie's deepest flaw, because this shemale is legally married to Patricia Arquette. Since, at least at the time of the release of 'The Badge', same sex marriage was illegal in Louisiana, Arquette MUST be a FEMALE. Billy Bob would KNOW that, but still anguishes over his attraction to Arquette, not sure she's a woman. Shemale or not, Billy Bob's attraction to Patricia Arquette is pretty understandable, since Patricia, like her sister Roseanna, has those world class 'knockout body' genes. Most heterosexual males would be turned on by since they're looking at the 'appearance package' and not 'checking out the interior.' If Arquette's shemale husband wanted to 'go all the way' with the sex change, what's he doing with Arquette?


Perhaps the worse aspect of 'The Badge' is it's overly optimistic ending. Most of us would like troubles to be wrapped up in such neat little packages, but they virtually never are.

However, 'The Badge' can be highly praised for one of its 'Playboy philosophy' truths. Organized religion to the contrary, sex is about a whole hell of a lot more than procreation. Perhaps the BEST attribute of sex is that is the most dramatic method to display intimacy and affection for another person. If this were not true, all those 'righteous, religious' married couples who cannot conceive but continue to have sex would be committing sin. Perhaps just as importantly, if sex can thus be disconnected from procreation, does it really matter what kind of sex it is? Isn't it more important that the two people care about each other and are not just using each others bodies?

'The Badge' boasts fine performances by Thornton, Arquette and Thomas Hayden Church as Billy Bob's brother. Despite it's flaws, 'The Badge' is good for a '6'. See it, whether you are open minded or not. It might just help you become so.
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Engaging but slightly problematic
win20025 January 2003
I enjoyed "The Badge"; when it appeared on the shelves of the video store where I work, I was a little curious about how a film with Billy Bob Thornton and Patricia Arquette wound up on cable. But oh well. After seeing the film, I have to admit that it does fit more properly on a small screen where its flaws are minimized. Robby Henson - the writer/director - has a tendency to use stylish jump cuts, amateurish wipes (no one except George Lucas should EVER use wipes anymore), and sped-up shots that are at odds with the appealingly lackadaisical tone of his story. However, the acting is excellent, especially by Thornton; had the film been released in theaters, it wouldn't have been unrealistic for Lion's Gate to push him for an Oscar. That said, Arquette is also good - am I the only one who thinks she's an underrated actress? "The Badge" reminded me over and over of "The Big Easy" - which is most certainly a compliment - and while it's not the equal of that film, it does a fine job of standing on it's own two feet.
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Heads you'll like it. Tails you'll loathe it.
MBunge16 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Badge is a bit of a mixed bag. It's quite interesting as a ground-level look at the culture of corruption in pre-Katrina Louisiana and there's some human realism in its story of a simple man dealing with his complicated life. But the mystery that runs through this film is really put together out of spit and bailing wire and the story as a whole starts out reasonably smart, then gets dumber and dumber and dumber as it goes along until hitting an ending that's like something a 4th grader would come up with.

Darl Hardwick (Billy Bob Thornton) is the good ole' boy sheriff of LeSalle Parish in rural Louisiana. He's got an alcoholic burnout for a father (Tom Bower), an ex-wife (Sela Ward) who's the county District Attorney and a daughter that dresses like a goth stripper. Darl likes to drink and then sleep it off in his truck. He's also more of a peace officer than an agent of law enforcement, meaning he sees the job of sheriff as being more about things like chasing off the kids who are loitering in front of the local grocery store and not about investigating crimes. As sheriff, Darl is also a cog in the parish's political machine. He's answerable to The Judge (William Devane), the richest and most powerful man in the local Democratic Party, but Darl is free to indulge in whatever little graft he can.

Darl's life in LeSalle Parish is disturbed when he and his deputies discover a dead woman in a ditch. They're disturbed even more when the woman turns out to be a transgendered man. Darl isn't all that interested in finding out who killed what he considers a "freak", even after the man's wife, Scarlett (Patricia Arquette), shows up demanding justice. When The Judge makes it clear that he wants the whole thing hushed up because it might affect his plans to open a new casino, Darl is ready to let the whole matter drop. But then he finds out the Democratic Party is kicking him off the ticket and running his black deputy for Sheriff. That makes Darl a little more interested in what happened to his transgendered murder victim. Then Darl gets framed for statutory rape by the local powers-that-be, and that makes him very interested in finding the killer.

Teaming up with Scarlett and getting an assist from his estranged brother (Thomas Haden Church), Darl uncovers a sordid tale of political intrigue that reaches all the way up to the governor himself and the even more seedy reason for the murder of Scarlett's husband. By this point in the film, things begin to get very stupid, very quickly, so I'll stop right here.

I enjoyed the way The Badge depicted the commonplace, unquestioned venality and crookedness of life in LeSalle Parish. Louisiana has been renowned for its relaxed attitude toward ethics, good government and the law for long time and this movie shows you what that means at the local level, with public officials who don't think twice about enriching themselves and always make sure to spread a little around to keep everybody else happy. LeSalle Parish is kind of like a bayou North Korea; a closed society that runs things the way they've always been run and doesn't cotton to outsiders.

Darl Hardwick is a part of that world and it's a part of him. He's not exactly happy, but he's comfortable and he doesn't think more than that is possible. Billy Bob Thornton does a good job portraying Darl with honesty. He's not a good person or a bad person. He's somebody who does moderately good things and moderately bad things without knowing enough or caring to distinguish between the two. Darl is the sort of man you condemn when looking at him from the outside, without ever being able to understand him.

Unfortunately, as the movie rolls on it casts Darl as more and more of a generic noir hero. That robs the character of his uniqueness and Thornton appears to become bored with the role and just goes through the motions. None of the other characters are given enough to do to make any impression on the audience, one way or the other.

And the mystery of the transgendered murder victim is…well, pathetic is the best word to describe it. It's the classic case of having every clue point in one direction and then throwing in a twist that completely changes things. The problem is that the twist involves people simply telling Darl what all the answers are while he stands there with the proverbial thumb up his butt. And those answers are things that neither Darl nor the audience could have figured out before hand because they're pulled in out of left field with nothing shown in the movie to support them. And the one question that isn't specifically cleared up for Darl is one the audience has figured out before the film is halfway over.

The Badge does have a smattering of female nudity and Patricia Arquette in a thong, which added to its other virtues should have made this a decent movie. But its flaws are so noticeable, that it's impossible to know how anyone will respond to this film. I like and I can imagine someone else enjoying it even more. However, I can also imagine someone thinking The Badge is garbage and being justified in thinking so. So if you're thinking about renting this DVD, flip a coin. You might get lucky…or you might not.
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Transphobic NOT homophobic
cristisphoto24 July 2006
One user comment though I agree with mostly was slightly inaccurate.. Homophobic mean Irrational fear of HOMOSEXUALS Whera TRANSPOBIA/IC means the same but with Transexuals etc and there are folks whom are actually BORN that way we call then Intersexed... ISNA.ORG is a good site.. BIG differences indeed.. The movie was OK .... Could have been more accurate and the Script a little more thought out.. But nonetheless we live in an ignorant/hateful world and the reaction towards people that are "different", were acted out accurately enough.. SO I say Long live Billy Bob Thornton.. May he rule all always lol

Anyhows, warm Regards Crista
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Interesting when bad badge-holder deals with his prejudices
OJT3 January 2010
Billy Bob Thornton does another good role as more or less corrupted Mississippi small-town Sheriff Darl Hardwick. A sheriff who drinks too much (just like his father), bends corners to get reelected, and is heavily prejudiced both towards genders and races.

The story gives you a bad taste in your mouth, but nevertheless the story and slow pace gives a good picture of southern small-town prejudices.

Rotten morals and ethics shines of this movie, until someone is trying to get rid of Darl, after him finding the transvestite Mona in a swamp after sex-party...

I found myself liking the movie very much, and the ending is also good, but somewhere on the road the story loses grip. Still interesting, but something is missing from the plot. You really don't believe the trouble Darl gets in when Monas wife gets the grip of him...

Due to this it's not easy to give this more than a 7 or 8 out of ten, but I think many fans of Thornton and Arquette will like this one.

Absolutely worthwhile watching, and not far from becoming a cult classic. Go see it!
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Somebody like you killed Mona; someone who couldn't deal with their own sexual impulses.
lastliberal16 September 2010
If GLAAD picked this film to compete for an award, it certainly makes it worth the time. Unfortunately, it went up against The Laramie Project and The Matthew Sheppard Story. It didn't have a chance.

But a GLAAD nomination and Billy Bob Thornton, Patricia Arquette, William Devane, and Sela Ward is more than enough to peak my interest.

It's a neonoir about a transsexual who is shot, and the power (Devane) in the small Parrish wants it to just go away. I wonder why. The Sheriff (Thornton) goes along until he finds he is on the outs and set up to be removed.

Thornton plays pretty much the same character that he did with Halle Berry.

Lots of twists and turns including the solution.

Great work by Thornton and Arquette.
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Mostly for fans of Billy Bob Thornton.
TxMike11 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The movie is set and filmed in the areas I lived in for some time, and I can assure everyone that the characters depicted bear little resemblance to the people and politicians that really live there.

The movie opens at night with a female figure running through some swampy land, then onto a 2-lane road where a big rig driver runs down a short embankment and deposits the trailer on its side in the muddy ditch to avoid hitting her. In daylight they find the body, while Sheriff Darl (Thornton) is supervising the distribution to the local folk of the shoes that were on the truck. After all, it is an election year. So, the movie is about trying to find the killer of this woman, 'Mona', amidst political jockeying for a casino and the governor's re-election. Moderately interesting and entertaining.

SPOILERS. BIG ONES. CAREFUL. In the morgue it turns out the dead 'lady' has a penis and breasts, is in fact a trans-sexual. Her 'wife' turns up, Scarlett (Patricia Arquette) who dances in a New Orleans dive. Through much of the movie it appears that the dead 'entertainer' had been at a party with the governor, and that one of the politicians had shot and killed her, it turns out that the mildly retarded filling station operator did the shooting. He had a peephole in the wall so that he could spy on pretty girls using the toilet, and was so disgusted when he saw Mona's male equipment, he chased and shot him/her, wounded he/she was able to run a bit before collapsing and dying in the ditch near the overturned truck. Sheriff had traced a call Mona placed to Scarlett from the phone booth at the filling station, and that was the last place she had been before she died.
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As good an ole boy as there is
bkoganbing12 June 2016
With transgender rights issue getting more and more media exposure and opponents saying and doing all kinds of desperate things to prevent them becoming a protected class, the film The Badge assumes a more frightening relevance now than it did in 2002 when it came out as a made for television film.

Billy Bob Thornton, sheriff of a rural Louisiana parish catches the case of a young woman found dead near a road after being shot. It's only when the body is brought to the coroner that there's a male body part. In her short life, she presented well in the sex she felt she was meant to be.

Thornton is as good an ole boy as you can get. He even threw his gay brother Thomas Haden Church out of the parish. But as he investigates the homicide he steps on some very powerful toes like the local parish boss William Devane. Even his wife Sela Ward who is the local prosecutor disowns after he's framed on a charge of corrupting the morals of a minor.

As it is in these cases that only makes him madder. His only allies turn out to be LGBT including Patrica Arquette wife of the deceased.

I think native Louisianans will recognize actor Michael Arata as their former Governor Edwin Edwards who was quite the party animal known in the state as the Silver Zipper. There's an election going on and the victim had been one of the women entertaining at a sex party. That's all Arata needs is to get hooked into a sex crime. Through Devane he really puts the squeeze to Thornton.

In the end all too sadly transgender people will recognize the motive for the killing. Just the notion of the existence of transgender people freaks a lot of people out. Not to mention then as now the idea of such people demanding equal protection under the law.

November 19 every year is the Transgender Day Of Remembrance, a solemn occasion that marks an annual tolling of the roll of new killed members of the community, worse even because law enforcement around the world doesn't take these crimes as seriously as they should, they're all not lawmen like Billy Bob Thornton. This film would be a good one to show at that time and in all kinds of LGBT venues.

More relevant now than when it came out.
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Billy Bob does it again
Predrag20 April 2016
This one is memorable for several reasons. Number one...the twists, you will be surprised throughout this film because it doesn't go in the direction you think it will. Try to guess what's going to happen a scene or two ahead and you can't. Billy Bob plays a very believable, somewhat lethargic lawman who'd just as soon take a nap in his pickup as solve a bizarre crime. Number two... the conflict, Billy Bob vs. the powers that be who want a baffling crime to remain unsolved. In most films Southern Politics either makes for good drama or it comes off as silly and pretentious. In this case it's the basis for numerous tense situations involving ethical questions. Number three...the humor, drama just doesn't work as well without it and this film gives the giggles when it counts.

The action is truly about Billy Bob's sheriff character finding his own true self among the corrupt local and state politicians. He manages both to find himself and to serve justice to the underground sex community (which serves the state politicians in a no-questions- asked deal). Also, William Devane delivers a satisfying performance as the rich guy manipulating local politics. Sela Ward is good in a small if predictable role as Thornton's ex-wife, now the assistant DA. All in all, it is a great drama for adults who aren't offended by sexuality and bad language, and children who are old and mature enough to watch this type of movie.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
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Touched by an angel
Raul Faust25 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I have decided watching this film,d despite all the bad critics that IMDb's users have written towards "The Badge". From the get go, I felt surprised that transsexualism was referred in this story, considering the year it has been produced in. Of course, there are some characters that are openly against such decision, but that can be expected even in the current societies. The mystery starts off a little slowly, but after all the characters are introduced, the plot becomes more and more interesting. About the acting, all I can say is that it didn't catch my attention for being good, nor bad; it's just regular as in any low-budget movie. Also, I may agree that there are some confusing moments in the plot, but this film is entertaining enough for what I could expect about it. Maybe an unpretentious watch can turn it into a positive attraction, if you know what I mean.
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Spiced Up Gumbo Stirred and Served with a Bit of Cheese
LeonLouisRicci25 August 2014
Not Without Curiosity and Concern about the Transsexual/Gay/Lesbian Alternative Lifestyle, this Odd Movie is a Well Acted Murder-Mystery that has a Backdrop of Corrupt Communities Overseen by Semi-Crooked Cops and Politicians, with Citizens that are Witless and Willing and Clueless to an Out of Sync World Around Them.

The Sexual Deviance of the Alternative Types Almost Looks More Appealing than the Rut of Rural Life that is the Lair of the Supposed Straights in this Movie. The Slant is Definitely on the Side of the Underdog and Ostracized "New Orleans" way of Life.

It does make its Case in an Atmosphere that Focuses on a Mid-Witted, Half-Corrupt Cop that has a Father that is a Basket Case, Mentally Impaired Alcoholic, and a Brother who was Kicked Out of this "Ideal" Location because He was Different.

There are More Dysfunctionals, like His Estranged District Attorney Wife and Goth Daughter and there are more Sub-Plots, like Billy Bob Thornton's Badge Wearing Protagonist being Framed for Statutory Rape and Forced Off the Ballot for Re Election because He is On to Something that could Bring Down the Governor.

There are a lot of Ingredients in this Gumbo and it is Remarkable that it Somehow Works and Comes Together in the End. It's Strength is in its Daring Display of the Gay Lifestyle with Some Sympathy and Understanding.

As a Murder Mystery it is Less Compelling and the Reveal is a Revolting Revelation that is Nervously Uncomfortable. The Rest of the Movie will Probably be Uncomfortable for those with a Disdain for the LGBT Lifestyle.
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That freak could have passed for Miss America!
sol29 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Confusing and jumbled crime drama involving a murder in LaSalle Parish Louisiana that can implicate the governor "Beak-Nose" Joe Breraton, Michael Arata, and not only destroy his bid for reelection but put him behind bars as well. It was LaSalle's Sheriff Darl Hardwick,Billy Bob Thorton, who started to get the ball rolling by coming across a dead body on the highway where a tractor-trailer carrying a truck-load of shoes overturned in order to avoid hitting a fleeing women who got it front of it.

As things turned out the woman later identified as Mona, Cindy Roubal, a stripper at the Johnny Angel club in New Orleans was actually a man undergoing a sex change operation! It's when Mona's grieving "wife" Sacrlett, Pattricia Arquette, showed up at the local morgue to identify the body that things started jumping at the Parish. It's discovered that she, Moma, was involved with Governor "Beak-Nose" Beraton and his top honchos including Da' Judge (William Devane), who happened to be the biggest political power-broker in the state, the night she was murdered!

As it soon came out Mona was invited by the Gov to preform at an exclusive sex club outside of LaSalle Parish doing her famous strip tease act. It's when it was discovered that she was in fact a man Mona was kicked out and left on her own with no way to get back home in the Big Easy! Shot by an unknown assailant Mona bleeding and running for her life ended up dead on the side of the road with a bullet in her, or his, back! It's now up to Sheriff Hardwick to track down Mona's killer but with Da' Gov Da' Judge and all the political big shots in the Perish determined not to let the truth of Mona's involvement with Da' Gov see the light of day it was Sheriff Hardwick not anyone else who found himself behind the eight ball!

Then movie "The Badge" never really takes off and meanders around for a good 90 minutes with Sheriff Hardwick getting arrested in a statutory rape frame-up with 15 year old "Hardy Party Girl", Audrey Marie Anderson, whom he drove home after she passed out drunk at a club that Da' Gov attended. It's then that Hardwick drives down to New Orleans and finds out what Mona was all about which has both him and Scarlett, Mona's wife, almost killed by Da' Judge's goons!

***SPOILERS*** It's only at the very end that the movie starts to makes a bit of sense in what was the real motivation for poor Mona's murder! It was in a round about way connected to an anti-casino campaign lead by the holier then thou church lady Sister Felicia, Julie Hagerty, who tried to get the goods on Da' Gov "Beak-Nose" Joe Breraton, who was in favor of casino gambling in the state, by getting Mona to be connected with him! That in fact not only lead to Mona being thrown out in the dead of night from the sex club she was preforming at but later getting murdered by one of Sister Felicia's crazed bible thumping followers! An over emotional and semi-retarded religious nut who lost it when he found out that Mona was not exactly what she seemed to be!
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Moral mystery.
Robert J. Maxwell19 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Three issues dealt with in this movie.

(1) Who murdered Mona, the transsexual?

(2) Will the sheriff, Billy Bob Thornton, overcome his revulsion for queers, men who dry flowers, women who like to wear spike collars, people of either sex who lust after cold sauerkraut, and other assorted wimps and pre-verts sufficiently to come to be truly in love with Mona's wife, Scarlett (Arquette)?

And (3) whatever is going to become of all these corrupt politicians?

The movie is nicely shot on location in Louisiana. The direction is competent, with only a few quick shots to dizzy the viewer. And the plot has a lot of texture to it. We honestly get the feeling that everyone in the parish knows everyone else. When a truck overturns and spills its load of shoes along the side of the road, Thornton makes several phone calls to the folks to come out and get some free shoes! Thornton's performance is really quite good. His morals are no better than they should be, perhaps. He shags his deputy's wife in the back seat of her own car. He hands out spilled shoes recklessly. He cheated on the wife who now despises him and has virtually no contact with his daughter, to whom he is irrelevant. Yet he comes across as a laid back sort of Southerner, easy going but a man who will stand firm when he feels he's being given the business. Not that he's one of those super action heroes. Thornton himself is no muscle man, and a black guy in a New Orleans strip club easily subdues him.

Patricia Arquette is such a cool blonde she seems positively Icelandic. And what eyes! It's impossible to put the color of her irises into words. Sela Ward is beautiful, classy, and voluptuous, and Thornton is a cretin for having cheated on her. I enjoyed William DeVane as the Southern judge too. DeVane is always reliable, and it's fun to see him as a genial and corrupt old pol, hobbling around on his walking stick. But it's Thornton who makes the movie, and he's very good.

Who killed Mona? (SPOILERS) Mona was shot by a factory reject with an IQ in the negative numbers and a moral code to match. The killing was simplicity itself. Almost everything else layered on in between tells us more about the community and its politics than about the murderer. Simply put, in the beginning, Thornton finds Mona's dead body. At the end he discovers that the overweight garage owner has a hole drilled through the wall of the lady's room so he can watch what goes on. When he discovers that Mona is anatomically male he goes berserk and Thornton gets him. The end.

But that brings us to issue numbers two and three. The movie draws a clear line between the "righteous" members of the community and the "oddballs" who live in New Orleans. Thornton at first is between the two but is repelled by hookers, no matter how sympathetic, amused when he finds that the victim's body has a penis. He has kicked his gay brother out of the Parish in order to be elected sheriff. By the end, it turns out that unfettered righteousness is more dangerous than open paraphilia. The reason Mona was in the Parish in the first place is that she had been brought from New Orleans to attend a stag party given by the politicians. And she was killed by a man who believes her murder was justified because "she shoulda never used the lady's room." Thornton rethinks his morality and comes to accept the oddballs for the human beings that they are.

I don't mean the movie is that preachy. Nobody makes speeches about it. It simply shows us Thornton's greater tolerance, which makes it possible for him to rebond with his family and with Arquette. It's a decent flick, although people who think homosexuals are sick, pre-verted, and deserving of death are unlikely to find it enjoyable in any way.
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Hey I was raised here
iwatcheverything20 October 2003
I watched this film the other night just b/c I was raised in LaSalle Parish. I don't remember any of the places that they were showing in the movie though. Billy Bob had a great performance but I believe he is always good to some extent. Patricia Arquette was not in this movie enough to make a real judgement. As for the plot it was okay but I do remember coming from there and I do not remember anyone acting in the ways these people reacted. It was too fake to me b/c I lived there and know that these events are far fetched and kind of make the Parish look bad. Well all in all the movie was okay for what it was but unless I find it for cheap I will not own this title.
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Not too shabby. . .
Ariel05145 October 2002
I saw this movie last night and I really liked it. Maybe I found it more interesting because I recently moved to New Orleans and I'm familiar with the area, or because it's not like anything that has been on TV recently. However, I thought the camera work was artistic enough, and the plot combined with the corruption of the government officials, and the history of that in Louisiana (Huey Long), made the movie interesting. However, since it was on HBO, there was unnecessary nudity and scenes filmed at the strip clubs.
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Politics and murder make for strange bedmates.
Michael O'Keefe27 September 2002
Robby Henson writes and directs this provocative realistic tale of a homophobic sheriff(Billy Bob Thornton)investigating the murder of a transsexual in Louisiana's LaSalle Parish. He must battle political interference as well as his own prejudice. Thornton is absolutely the right actor for the role. At this point in his career, Thornton could do Hamlet in a phone booth to ovations. The story meanders a bit, but this noirish crime drama seems to keep the viewer baited for a sufficient and believable finale. A trans-gendered gunshot victim floating in a swamp is definitely something to be curious of. A very diverse cast supports Thornton, notably:Patricia Arquette, William Devane, Sela Ward and Thomas Haden Church. This is a must for Thornton fans.
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"Monster's Ball" it ain't
George Parker8 September 2002
In "The Badge" (bad title), Thornton plays a sheriff in Louisiana's LaSalle Parish who has to solve a murder case involving sexually atypical types whom he regards with contempt. The film attempts to show Thornton's character coming to grips with his prejudices while wrestling with other personal issues such as his estranged family and job security but never manages any serious level of tension or believability and finishes anticlimactically. "The Badge" is a messy, ill focused, conglomerated mystery/drama with a solid cast, a clumsy screenplay, and a slick noirish execution full of comic book characters; a kind of classy dud. Passable stuff worth a look for Thornton fans. (C)
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