Film Review: Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’ Stalls Out

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – There was a time when it looked like not only would Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton be one of our great actors but possibly a threat behind the camera as well. Everyone knows the impression of his character from “Sling Blade” but many forget that he directed it as well. He followed that up with the flawed but ambitious and interesting “All the Pretty Horses.” Then his career faded, failing to find the parts that could really show his undeniable talents in front of the camera and simply not working behind it.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

His first directorial effort since 2001’s awful “Daddy & Them” is making its debut on some On Demand platforms and in limited release this Friday and, despite some interesting performances and ideas, “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” is not the movie to give Billy Bob his much-needed comeback. It’s episodic, uneven, bizarre, clichéd, and boring all at the same time. And every time it feels like it’s finally going to cohere into the modern Tennessee Williams piece that it clearly aspires to be, it careens off the road in sometimes spectacular fashion.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” in our reviews section.

It is 1969 Alabama, a hotbed of social issues for Thornton and co-writer Tom Epperson (“One False Move,” which features a great supporting turn from Thornton) to play with from Vietnam to the civil rights movement. In fact, the film opens with a protest. Carroll Caldwell (Kevin Bacon) is protesting the Vietnam war in his small town, getting arrested, and getting chewed out by his tough-as-nails Great War vet pop Jim (Robert Duvall). Jim has two other sons, the solid and old-fashioned Jimbo (Robert Patrick) and the oddball Skip (Thornton). They have been raised by their aggressive father since their mother Naomi skipped town for the U.K. decades earlier.

Culture clashes abound when the Caldwells receive a call informing them that their estranged mom is dead. She has asked that her body be brought back to Alabama to be buried. And with her comes her British family, including second husband Kingsley Bedford (John Hurt) and his family, which includes Phillip (Ray Stevenson) and Camilla (Frances O’Connor). Multiple generations, Brits vs. Americans, the difference between the approach to World War I, WWII, and Vietnam, PTSD, the expansion of drugs into small towns in the ‘60s, general large family drama – Thornton has dozens of themes to plug into his soap opera and he wants to include every one. “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” is cluttered with characters and subplots, and only a few of them resonate at all.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” review.

“Jayne Mansfield’s Car” stars Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Ray Stevenson, Robert Patrick, Shawnee Smith, John Hurt, Katherine LaNasa, and Frances O’Connor. It was written by Thornton and Tom Epperson and directed by Thornton. It is now available On Demand and opens Friday, September 13, 2013 in New York, Atlanta, Dallas, and other markets.

Jayne Mansfield's Car
Jayne Mansfield’s Car
Photo credit: Anchor Bay

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Advertisement



HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
referendum
tracker