Karl befriends a young boy named Frank, and the two are friends from the start. Both of them share some of the same emotional issues, but in Frank's case it is due to his mother's abusive boyfriend Doyle (played by Dwight Yoakam). Karl gets a job working on small engines at a local garage and lives there for a while, but Frank and his mother agree it would be good for Karl to live with them. From the first time Karl meets Doyle, he begins to see what a terrible person he is. Doyle is constantly belittling Frank and Vaughn (a friend of Frank's mother who is gay), and is verbally and physically abusive to Linda (Frank's mom). Karl appears to be a very simple man, but it is apparent that his mind is always at work analyzing the people around him. Doyle grows worse and worse, and Karl becomes increasingly fed up with him. Karl always remains calm no matter the situation, but we start to see that he is the only one who can make things better for Linda, Frank and Vaughn and that as the movie progresses Karl realizes something must be done.Read more ›
This movie will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you cringe. But it won't let you go until you see it in its entirety, and question the fact - is it okay to kill if it's for a better cause?
Thornton's Karl Childers became one of the Icons of American cinema, and I still hear people doing Karl's gravel-throated mumble which gets an immediate look of recognition from the people around.
Karl is an essentially good man who is mentally challenged. He recognizes good and bad in others, and he seems to understand his place in the world, even if the intricacies of complex human relationships pass by him as unnoticed as the ozone layer.
As the movie opens we learn that Karl is being held in a State Mental Hospital many years after he has killed a couple of people he thought were doing wrong. I'd say more here, but I think it might spoil some of your enjoyment of the movie to learn more - so just watch the movie! We also learn that Karl is being released because they've "cured him".
He goes back to his home town with all his worldly belongings in a sack. A kindly Doctor from the institution gets him a job as a lawn-mower mechanic and he meets a little boy who is friendly to him.
This is a movie of characters, and simply describing them would not do the characters justice. Karl is a simple man with a pretty well-developed sense of right and wrong. The little boy has lost his father, and the boy's mother, Linda, (portrayed in a wonderfully understated performance by Natalie Canerday) has taken up with a hard drinking, bad-mouthing redneck played by Dwight Yoakam. The late John Ritter is almost unrecognizable playing the soft-spoken crew-cut manager of the store where Linda works. Ritter's Vaughan is devoted to Linda and the little boy, Frank (played by Lucas Black), but Vaughan is also a homosexual in a small town in the south, and his social status is precarious.Read more ›