Alabama; 1969: The death of a clan's estranged wife and mother brings together two very different families. Do the scars of the past hide differences that will tear them apart, or expose truths that could lead to unexpected collisions?
Earl Pilcher, Jr., runs an equipment rental outfit in Arkansas, lives with his wife and kids and parents, and rarely takes off his gimme cap. His mother dies, leaving a letter explaining ... See full summary »
James Earl Jones,
Rock singer John Mellencamp makes his screen and directorial debut in this story by "Lonesome Dove" author, Larry McMurtry. The story, not too separated from Mellencamp's real life, finds ... See full summary »
From the first time I caught a portion of this film on Showtime until I finally found a copy on DVD, I asked myself, "Why wasn't this released in the theaters?" I have rationalized that it was too real for the average Southern audience and conversely bizarre to a Northern group. Add the fact that Jim Varney was unable to complete the film, which I'm sure, created some last minute re-writes and the botch job the editors did in the cutting room and the answer becomes more obvious.
The movie had a superior cast and each thespian was spot on in the portrayal of their respective roles. From the obvious stars Billy Bob Thornton's portrayal of an alcoholic, troglodytic, narcissistic redneck and Andy Griffith's character whose nightmare plagued view of life was truly delightful to watch, to the unsung Walter Goggins spot-on Southern Homosexual; Tommy Christianson (Jim Varney's alleged victim) and the tandem of Jaimie Lee's and Affleck's portrayals of fish out of water Yankees, all the actors were well above Hollywood's standards.
The writing was as close as one can get to true to life redneck/white trash dialog. I use the terms redneck/white trash with personal pride having spent a good number of my life's years living in a trailer in Alabama. I have been surrounded by and endured these types with much fascination for quite some time and this movie was completely a slice of life. Well worth watching and should be a part of every Southerner's DVD collection.
Through all the madness that ensues in the film, the finale leaves one feeling warm and fuzzy, if you work for it. You can see the potential for change and growth in all walks of humanity. The poor struggle with the past but live in the now. They walk in the shadows of the educated but are far from being imbeciles. Obscene behavior shows ignorance not stupidity. Anyone that sees this film and cannot get past all the verbose behavior in the film will not grasp the underlying love that is being purveyed. The Character's total dysfunction disables them from rational thoughts and actions, however, they do care for one another honestly and carry exceptionally strong family bonds.
Now, for the most troubling aspect; the fatal flaw was the editing. The movie at first glance has some gaps and unexplainable situations that are baffling and distracting. Upon viewing the deleted scenes portion of the DVD the movie's intent and flow are re-established. This is still a very good film. Sadly, it could have been a great one.
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