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"Christine's relationship with Raoul is her romantic awakening as a teenager, but her pull towards the Phantom is a very sexual, very deep, very soulful union"  -Joel Schumacher, director, The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
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Little Rock, Arkansas couple Claude Montgomery (Billy Bob Thornton) and his wife Ruby (Laura Dern) have trust issues, with each insecure about the other when it comes to their relationship and outsiders. Ruby is jealous of Claude’s past relationship with her predatory sister Rose (Kelly Preston), and Claude just can’t seem to get over Ruby’s sexual past. When Claude’s Uncle Hazel (Jim Varney) is arrested on an attempted murder charge and a family reunion is called, complete with Ruby’s hurtful mother Jewel (Diane Ladd) and her sister Rose, the bickering couple is thrown into further turmoil, as they and their entire redneck, white trash clan are forced to confront each other and their problems.

Review by: Craig Miller
Daddy and Them (a dark romantic/comedy/drama about love, trust and letting go) was never going to be the defining work of Billy Bob Thornton, but it is certainly not a piece of work that should be overlooked if you are a fan of Thornton’s or just someone who delights in the genre. Sure, it was made in 2001, enjoyed an extremely limited cinematic release in the US and comes released on DVD under a wave of non-existent publicity, but it does contain enough charm and genuinely funny and touching moments to make it worth a look.

Daddy and Them is at its best when it keeps its focus on the feuding Claude and Ruby, (played convincingly by Thornton and Dern respectively) as they test each other’s love with constant jibes and remarks about each other’s past loves and conquests, both hoping the other is truly in love, but never daring to really believe.

This continual conflict is the film’s emotional core, and the long scenes of dialogue between these two emphasizes Thornton’s skill at developing solid characters. Unfortunately he does get a little side-tracked throughout the film with unimportant scenes that revolve around their family, which end up going nowhere and subsequently leave the ensemble cast being mostly decoration.

That said, there are some wonderful cameo performances from Affleck and Curtis who play a bitter married couple and law partners who utterly despise each other (real hatred is tough to express and these two do it well), and a serviceable effort from Brenda Blethyn as the British wife of Claude’s Uncle Hazel, who is the catalyst behind the film’s final act when she spells out how completely unacceptable their lives are, forcing the family to take a good hard look at themselves.

This is never going to be a classic, not even a great example of the genre, but some solid performances with a side of good ole white trash comedy, assures it of being a positive experience when chosen in those critical ‘just pick something’ last few minutes of a video shop search.

Published February 12, 2004

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CAST: Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern, Brenda Blethyn, Andy Griffith, Kelly Preston, Diane Ladd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Affleck, Jim Varney

DIRECTOR: Billy Bob Thornton

SCRIPT: Billy Bob Thornton

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.85:1 widescreen 16:9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Village Roadshow

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

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