Skip to main content

Billy Bob Thornton (left) and Kevin Bacon in a scene from "Jayne Mansfield's Car"

3 out of 4 stars

Jayne Mansfield's Car
Directed by
Billy Bob Thornton
Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Katherine LaNasa

Unmissable for its Robert Duvall-on-acid sequence alone, Billy Bob Thornton's Jayne Mansfield's Car is a crazy-quilt patchwork delight of a movie, a southern-fried intergenerational family melodrama that veers in and around brilliance often enough that you can forgive it for never quite having all its quacking ducks neatly lined up. Set largely on the sumptuous but slightly seedy Caldwell estate in 1969, Thornton's movie describes what happens when super-crotchety old Jim Caldwell (Duvall) – a man who only registers emotional engagement when performing close studies of fatal wrecks on the surrounding roadways – learns that the wife who abandoned him and his four kids (Thornton, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick and Katherine LaNasa) has died and the man she re-married (John Hurt) is arriving from England with his family and her body in tow. It's basically the set-up for the release of some long-simmering and dangerously unventilated family resentments, and the movie lets the entire cast get at least one extended scene to let 'er rip. While sometimes teetering precariously on the edge of over-the-topness, Thornton's movie is nevertheless an ensemble piece of intermittently devastating power. Plus Duvall's LSD sequence is killer.

Sept. 13, 6:00 p.m., Roy Thomson Hall; Sept. 14, 11:30 a.m., Ryerson Theatre; Sept. 15, 12:00 p.m., Scotiabank 1

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at