A Family Thing

Synopsis: Earl Pilcher, Jr., runs an equipment rental outfit in Arkansas, lives with his wife and kids and parents, and rarely takes off his gimme cap. His mother dies, leaving a letter explaining he's not her natural son, but the son of a black woman who died in childbirth. Plus, he has a half-brother Ray, in Chicago, she wants him to visit. Earl makes the trip, initially receiving a cold welcome from Ray and Ray's son, Virgil. His birth mother's sister, Aunt T., an aged and blind matriarch, takes Earl in tow and insists that the family open up to him.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director(s): Richard Pearce
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  3 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min

Now, let me run this by you

one more time real slow

so you can understand it.

If you rent a piece of equipment,

you are liable for it

if you bust it.

I don't think I'm responsible for faulty

equipment. The thing just flew apart.

I didn't rent it to you

to bust up a building.

It's none of your business

what I rented it for.

I paid good money. I'm the customer,

and I'm not being treated like one.

It damn well is my business.

I own this place,

and every piece

of equipment in it.

And you ain't gonna cost me

any money, by God. Yes, ma'am.

Where'd you say you were

from again? Wisconsin.

Wisconsin? There's

your trouble, Junior.

I've never seen a damn yankee yet

could operate more than a wheelbarrow.

I paid the rental,

and that's all I'm paying.

Earl, it's aunt Ruby on the phone.

Tell her I'll call her back.

It's about granny.

She's fixing to...

it's almost time.

Oh. Come on, daddy.

Let's go to the house.

Lock up, Sonny.

Where you going? Let's get this settled.

We're closing up.

I got things to take care of

- besides hoohahing with you. - Well,

I'm not leaving until we get it settled.

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

You better sign something

saying I'm not responsible.

You comin'? I'm locking this door. I'm

not leaving till you sign something.

Very funny.



Unlock this door!

Hear me?


Hey! Get back here!

She's been talking

out of her head, Earl.

She's been calling for you.

All right.


Why don't you make some

coffee or something?

That crying ain't helping any.

Carrie, how you feeling?

Tolerable, I reckon.

How you all doin'?

I'm kind of down in my back,

but I reckon I'll do.

You want me to get you

something or other to eat?

Naw. I don't feel much

like eatin' nothin'.

I seen your daddy today,


Daddy's dead, granny.

No, he ain't no such a thing.

He's out there in the back,

building me a little ol' shed

to keep things in.

Carrie, I'm gonna get

me some coffee.

You want some?

No. I don't believe I do.

I been kinda thinking

about going to church sunday.

You want to?

All right.


Well, we'll do that.

Reckon why your daddy's

playing I'm all right?

You are all right, mama.

Doctor says you're liable

to live to be 100.

Said you're too ornery to die yet.

You're having a spell, that's all.

You never was too good

at storyin', Junior.

I'm 85 years old.

That's plenty of stayin' alive to do.

You take care of things, Earl.

You do things right.

Yes, ma'am.

I don't want you laying here

some of these days like me

wishing you'd done different.

You done real good, mama.

Real good.

You take care of

your family, Earl.

Yes, ma'am.

Use my memory to help you do that.

I always do. That's the first

thing. I always take care.

That's what you taught me.

I had a dream.

I was hanging a load of wash

on a tree limb down by the river.

Ain't that the silliest thing?


Sheriff just called.

He said some man

called him from the store,

hollering you'd locked him

up inside of it.

Hey, daddy. What's going on?

I bought you a new cap today.

It says "Hunters do it

with both barrels. "

Well, she's gone.

Mama's gone.

Gone to heaven.

So you better call

whoever you're supposed to call, Ruby,

to take care of it.

When's that coffee

gonna be ready?

And when Jesus

came to the place

where Lazarus was buried,

Martha said unto him,

"Lord, if you had been here,

"my brother would not have died.

"But even now I know

God will give you whatever

you ask him. "

Jesus said unto her,

"Your brother will rise again. "

How about you, reverend?

What are you doin' over this way?

Earl, how you doing?


Come on in.

What can I do for you?

Listen, I got this letter your

mama gave me before she passed.

She wanted me

to wait a few days

and then give it to you.

What is it?

Well, I hadn't looked at it,

and she didn't tell me.

She just told me

to give it to you

and not anybody else.

"It's private," she said.

Thank you.

Well, I better go.

I got rounds to make.

Roy Bailey's in the hospital

with his gall bladder,

and I got to see him.

I'll see you later on, then.


I'll see you sunday.

Well, we'll see.

See ya.


Daddy, turn that thing off.

It's gonna be a hot one, Junior.

Brother Conners just

brought me this letter

that mama wrote to me

before she passed.

A letter?

From your mama?

Yes, sir.

I'm gonna read it to you.

It says, "Dear Earl...

"when you read this letter,

"I pray I'll be in heaven

with our dear Lord

"if he's willing to have me there.

"I done it this way because

I could not face you

"to tell you this thing

I need to tell you.

"I guess I could've

not told you at all,

"but I could not take

this to my grave.

"Before I write this thing

to you, "I want you to know

"that I've loved and always loved

you, "and your daddy loves you, too.

"You always heard you

was born in Alabama

"because I went there to

stay with my sick cousin.

"It hurts me to tell you this,

"but that is not the truth of things.

"We had a colored woman named

Willa Mae "that worked for us.

"She was a real nice woman.

"She used to sit and

talk with me a lot.

"I couldn't really have

a colored friend in town,

"but in the house, nobody knew

about it. "She was real smart

"and believed in the good Lord.

"She cried one day and told me

"that your daddy had

been with her a while back,

Rate this script:4.3 / 3 votes

Billy Bob Thornton

Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, filmmaker, singer, songwriter, and musician. Thornton had his first break when he co-wrote and starred in the 1992 thriller One False Move, and received international attention after writing, directing, and starring in the independent drama film Sling Blade (1996), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He appeared in several major film roles in the 1990s following Sling Blade, including Oliver Stone's neo-noir U Turn (1997), political drama Primary Colors (1998), science fiction disaster film Armageddon (1998), the highest-grossing film of that year, and the crime drama A Simple Plan (1998), which earned him his third Oscar nomination. In the 2000s, Thornton achieved further success in starring dramas Monster's Ball (2001), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), and Friday Night Lights (2004); comedies Bandits (2001), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and Bad Santa (2003); and action films Eagle Eye (2008) and Faster (2010). In 2014, Thornton starred as Lorne Malvo in the first season of the anthology series Fargo, earning a nomination for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie at the Emmy Awards and won Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. In 2016, he starred in an Amazon original series, Goliath, which earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. Thornton has been vocal about his distaste for celebrity culture, choosing to keep his life out of the public eye. However, the attention of the media has proven unavoidable in certain cases, his marriage to Angelina Jolie being a notable example. Thornton has written a variety of films, usually set in the Southern United States and mainly co-written with Tom Epperson, including A Family Thing (1996) and The Gift (2000). After Sling Blade, he directed several other films, including Daddy and Them (2001), All the Pretty Horses (2000), and Jayne Mansfield's Car (2012). Thornton has received the President's Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, a Special Achievement Award from the National Board of Review, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has also been nominated for an Emmy Award, four Golden Globes, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. In addition to film work, Thornton began a career as a singer-songwriter. He has released four solo albums and is the vocalist of the blues rock band The Boxmasters. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "A Family Thing" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 28 May 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/a_family_thing_7985>.

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