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

  • Little Women: The Musical

    CHICAGO – The story of “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott, has been an American institution since its publication in 1869. The story of four girls-to-little-women during the American Civil War, with their indomitable mother holding down the household while their father is away in the war, was a perfect candidate to become a Broadway musical. The Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo) is currently presenting a brilliant adaptation of that musical for the storefront stage, and its emotion, music craft and energy is nothing sort of a triumph… this small theater company that could does it again. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the The Strawdog Theatre in Chicago through February 9th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

Advertisement



HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
referendum
tracker