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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

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