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Sling Blade Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today

    Sling Blade is about a society barely holding on by its fingernails, the home and hearth hardly a place of respite. Unlike "The Ice Storm" or "The Sweet Hereafter," Sling Blade is devoid of the creature comforts of middle-class life that at least allow people the degraded hobbies that keep them functioning. [May, 1998]

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The narrative is little more than a flimsy envelope -- it's the men and women who are sealed within that make Sling Blade worth watching.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    There is pain, humor, irony and sweetness in the character, and a voice and manner so distinctive, he is the most memorable movie character I've seen in a long time.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune

    Resonates like the best of Southern fiction.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It's a beautiful contraption of a movie, a gothic backwoods fable that uses its naive yet murderous hero to walk a fine line between sentimentality and dread.

  • See all Sling Blade reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Intense family drama with strong language, some violence.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this intense drama focuses on a mentally disabled man, Karl, who tries to build a life in his rural Arkansas hometown after spending 20 years in a psychiatric hospital for a brutal murder. He forms a surprisingly touching bond with a 12-year-old boy, and moves into the dysfunctional home the boy shares with his mom and her abusive boyfriend. There's plenty of sexual talk, swearing ("f--k," "p-ssy," "s--t"), and some drinking, as well as a few disturbing scenes of shocking violence.

  • Families can talk about Karl's decision. Did he do the right thing? Can his action be justified? Was it the act of a mentally disabled person, or was it a very wise and selfless choice.
  • How are mentally disabled peopel generally portrayed in the media? Is this a unique depiction, or does it rely on stereotypes?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Violent people get back what they put into the world, though not before causing much pain and suffering to others. Fortunately, people who are essentially good will usually receive that back, too. The trouble is that it often takes a long time for both to get what they deserve, and it's not always so clear how that will happen. Sometimes it's hard to tell discern the "right" thing to do, and even harder to do it. There's also a very strong anti-abuse message.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Karl is an unlikely role model, with his violent past and limited capabilities. But when he makes a fateful choice, deciding what he thinks is the right thing to do, he sacrifices everything for two people who were good to him.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Doyle is an unpredictable and violent lout, given to sudden outbursts of screaming and rage, who takes out his frustrations on Frank and his mom. There isn't much physical violence, but Doyle creates an atmosphere of menace and there are several realistic confrontations where he seems to be on verge of mayhem, as well as some loud screaming arguments accompanied by pushing and throwing objects. Some discussion of past violence. The film builds to a single act of shocking violence that isn't totally surprising.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Some graphic discussions about sex, and one character who is mocked for being gay.

  • language false4

    Language: Some swearing, including "s--t," "f--k," "p-ssy," and "ass." Also, several graphic descriptions of sexual encounters.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Several characters drink regularly and a few turn out to be very unpleasant drunks.