In today’s trailer appreciation installment, we look back on Sling Blade, if for no other reason than because it was filmed in my hometown back before Jerry Van Dyke bought up half the town square (also filmed in my hometown? Burt Reynolds’ White Lightning). In fact, my father — who threw newspapers out of a window for a living — used to deliver the Arkansas Democrat Gazette to the state hospital that Billy Bob Thornton’s character came out of. I went with him one morning — there were crazy people out on the courtyard pissing on the sidewalk. Good times. Oh, and I tested a pipe bomb on the Old Steel Bridge depicted in the film, part of a series of events that would eventually get me arrested.
I do not miss that place.
Sling Blade does make for a pretty great trailer, though, at least inasmuch as it reminds us of a time when Billy Bob Thornton wasn’t the raging asshole he’s become. And in case you didn’t remember, the kid in the film is Lucas Black, who would be replaced in the generic white boy department by Paul Walker (though, Black supplanted him briefly in The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. I doubt anyone even noticed). The movie still represents the best performances of both Thornton and Dwight Yoakum’s career, and it’s one of the few big-screen achievements of the late, great John Ritter.
It was also a pretty great goddamn movie. If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while, it’s worth (re)visiting.