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YMMV / Sling Blade

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Doyle's lack of reaction to Karl holding a lawn mower blade and threatening to kill him with it despite Doyle's obvious fear of Karl is debated. Was Doyle too drunk to react properly? Too arrogant to show fear? Did he just not think Karl would actually kill him? Or did he actually want Karl to end his miserable life?
    • Karl's father denying that he had a son when Karl reunited with him. Was it senility making him forget he had a son? Or just denial because he didn't want anything to do with Karl (the things he was muttering before seeing Karl suggest the latter.)
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  • Awesome Music: All of Daniel Lanois's score. Also a well-placed country ballad when Karl and Melinda are on their 'date' and she brings him flowers.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Karl's baptism.
    • This is debatable as he has just made things right with his father and forgiven himself for what happened to his brother.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Billy Bob Thornton is so known for playing jerks and sleazebags that seeing him as the unstable, yet gentle Karl is something of a shock.
    • Also, country singer Dwight Yoakam is surprisingly damn frightening as Doyle. When promoting the film on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, he shared an amusing anecdote about how he knew he had done a good job when after the premiere, his own mother looked him dead in the eyes and said "I'm glad he killed you!"
  • Hollywood Homely: Billy Bob Thornton was told by Billy Wilder that he was too ugly to be an actor and should write a screenplay to exploit his features.
  • I Am Not Shazam:
    • Because of the film, "Sling Blade" is used by some as a derogatory term for the mentally challenged.
    • Many people who are unfamiliar with the movie think that Sling Blade is the protagonist's name. Evidenced by closed captions that say:
      [[Insert character name]] (Imitating Sling Blade): Mustard and biscuits, mm-hmm.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Doyle's may be when he flings poor Terrence in his wheelchair against the screen door in the act of kicking his band out.
    • Frank Childers's was carried out long before the events of the movie, as related by Karl: he expected Karl to dispose of his premature little brother as though he were trash; the follow-through to this unseen event is shown in the Heartwarming Moments above.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The climax of the film. During the Hope Spot, Daniel Lanois, with the track "Orange Kay," paints a picture of inner turmoil merged with terrifyingly righteous wrath as Karl contemplates murdering Doyle For The Greater Good. Lanois' angry instrumentation leads with distorted guitar as Karl walks around Millsberg in full knowledge of the gravity of his situation and of the danger to his new-found loved ones. The fuel becomes more potent with Hell Is That Noise, as the wailing guitars reach their peak on the point of Karl's final decision, symbolizing the peak of his rage just before his enters Doyle's house for the final scene. Inside, the guitars lower to a bubbling froth-like texture, then cut out entirely when Karl chops Doyle's head open.
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  • One-Scene Wonder: Robert Duvall as Karl's father.
  • Tear Jerker: Karl relating to Frankie how his father made him dispose of his prematurely-born little brother in a trash barrel, when he was "six or eight"; even then it didn't seem right, so Karl took the tiny being and gave him a decent burial in the backyard.
    • Made a bit worse by the fact Frankie delivers a What the Hell, Hero? to Karl for this; but being mentally challenged and a little boy, he had no idea how to care for any baby, let alone a premature one, so it was a bit misplaced; still, it does speak to Frankie's high moral fiber.
    • "Wasn't right of you to kill my little brother... He mighta had fun sometimes."
  • The Woobie:
    • Frankie. He is consistently oppressed by his mother's boyfriend, as well as constantly being turned down by his crush Karen Cross. He does get his share of hugs, but don't you feel like you need to give him one more?
    • To say Karl had a crappy life is one heck of an understatement. He was forced to live his childhood in a shed with a dirt floor, sleeping in a hole in the ground. He was bullied constantly by all the children his own age and treated like crap by everyone, including his own parents, right up until he killed his mother and her lover.


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