Film Review: A Very Sordid Wedding

If you liked the original, the overdue sequel to 'Sordid Lives' will both delight you and warm your ever-lovin’ heart.
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Has it really been 17 years? The whole addlepated, fun gang from Winters, Texas, is back in A Very Sordid Wedding, to once again raise holy hell in the ongoing war between Southern Baptist Bible-bangers and the gays who refuse to be silenced, along with their supporters. Ty Williamson (Kirk Geiger), who had such a struggle in Sordid Lives (2000), coming out to his conservative and now more accepting mother Latrelle (Bonnie Bedelia), is now in love and married to a black man, with whom he ebulliently keeps having weddings in every state in the union. But those local homophobes will insist on going forward with their “Anti-Equality” movement, banning gay marriages in the county.

Also along for the ride are Brother Boy (Leslie Jordan, joyously chewing the scenery), still with the makeup, wig and drag, but now depressed by the ageism he’s encountering. He brightens up considerably when he meets a hot young stud, but, unfortunately, he happens to be an escaped serial killer.

There are even more characters in writer-director Del Shores’ crazy-quilt sequel, and it’s rather admirable how he manages to maintain control over so many plotlines as well as the viewer’s highly amused attention. The contributions of his sprawling, motley and exceedingly lovable cast cannot be underestimated, for it is they who account for the enduring appeal of the original, which went on to become a TV series and win a place in the hearts of lovers of gay good-ole-boy (in this case, more girl) humor everywhere. And, if nothing else, this Southern-fried mini-franchise is a commendable rebuke to Hollywood’s eternal disdain of actresses over the age of 30, providing meaty work for this wondrous gallery of big-haired, chain-smoking, deeply eccentric comedic character actresses.

For this viewer, Latrelle’s Aunt Sissy (Dale Dickey, taking over for Beth Grant) is the true beating heart of the show, and here she has finally given up smoking and is now obsessed with reading the Bible from cover to cover in an attempt to understand what in tarnation is going on in the world today. Her beyond-wry but always goodhearted observations about the absurdities she finds in both constitute A Very Sordid Wedding’s most engaging moments. It’s always good to see marshmallow-faced Caroline Rhea, and here she revives her TV-series role of Noleta, Latrelle’s BFF, who finally finds true love in the arms of a very sexy hospital invalid, not far from the bed where her impossible mother is recovering after a near-fatal tussle over the TV remote control.

Bedelia, despite her higher-the-hair-closer-to-God presentation, seems to have grown ever more lovelier through the years, ever since plangently singing “The Best Things in Life Are Free” in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? some 50 years ago, and has achieved that rare performer’s grace by now. She’s in such command of her talent that the least thing she does registers with a combined force and uncanny delicacy that pierces right through you. (It was said that Duse had this effect, but who knew I’d be making this comparison in the context of Del Shores’ over-the-top oeuvre?)

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