I think I’m the only person on the internet who likes this movie. It’s pretty funny. It has some clever lines, and really good acting. And it’s flaws are the “good” kind of flaws, in that they are thought provoking more than irritating.
The movie consists of various Tucker Max stories plugged into a running storyline. If you’ve never read Tucker Max, he’s what Hunter S Thompson would be if he hadn’t had to do all that tiresome reporting. His stories aren’t great literature – they’re frequently much better. The three main characters are Tucker, Drew (based on SlingBlade) and Dan (a composite of various Tucker Max friends), who go to a stripclub in Salem, lying to Dan’s fiancee in the process. Then begins a series of tragic misadventures where Tucker learns valuable lessons about who cares.
The acting’s great. Matt Czuchry’s Tucker has a likeable energy – which he needs, because his role requires him to do very unlikeable stuff. The SlingBlade character is a misanthropic Napoleon Dynamite who sells every line of dialogue like he’s earning a commission. The interesting part of the movie isn’t the story, it’s the energy generated by the interactions of the three male leads. IHTSBIH makes me feel the same way I feel about South Park – I don’t care much for its supposedly brilliant satire and social commentary, I just like seeing the four kids fooling around.
Unfortunately, the movie has issues. To be fair, so does Tucker Max, and those issues make him attractive to women. Doesn’t really work here, though. This movie’s issues do not make me remotely feel like buying it a drink, unless it’s a drink of acetone.
A lot of the lighting is pretty terrible. SOME scenes look good (like ones in the school). Others (such as the opening scene) look like they were shot by college kids on a rented Arri. How’d they fuck it up this badly?
But the main problem is the writing.
The dialogue doesn’t sound like something a person would say. It all sounds “written”. The road trip is a good example. SlingBlade gets hungry and goes on a monologue about the charms of caramelised fast food (“…if you EVER speak ill of the Pancakewich again I will personally force-feed you one while I fuck you in the butt using the wrapper as a condom and then donkey punch you when the infused syrup nuggets explode in your mouth!”). Fans even somewhat deep in the game will recognise this monologue as being, almost word for word, a post the real-life Slingblade left on the Tucker Max Message Board. It’s hilarious when you read it, but when you have an actor read it out it sounds like…well, like a person reading a forum post out loud.
Sometimes the writing’s just plain sloppy. At one stage, Slingblade says Tucker will probably get AIDS, to which he replies “it’s basically curable. It doesn’t even show up in Magic Johnson’s blood any more.” Slingblade does a take, then replies “so you’re saying Magic Johnson’s black…and has AIDS…and has it better than me?” Given Tucker’s initial comment, the quip doesn’t make sense. It’s just lazy, forgetful writing. You can’t have a character quip without being set up for it.
This movie made basically no money, which is a shame. At least Tucker stuck to his guns and retained creative control. I recall him saying in an interview that he would never give it to a Hollywood flack to make, because “there’s no chance he would do anything except fuck it up”. So instead, he kind of fucked it up himself. Perhaps he wouldn’t have it any other way.