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Kristin Scott Thomas,
We become intimate with the "Sordid Lives" of a family in a small Texas town preparing for the funeral of the mother. Among the characters are the grandson trying to find his identity in West Hollywood, the son who has spent the past twenty-three years dressed as Tammy Wynette, the sister and her best friend (who live in delightfully kitschy homes), and the two daughters (one strait-laced and one quite a bit looser). Written by
Randall Gellens <email@example.com>
Del Shores directed and wrote this adaptation of his own play about how an elderly woman's (comical) accidental death causes her family and friends to rue her passing while digging up ancient misgivings. Low-budget film played the Palm Springs movie circuit for months but didn't hit many other towns; easy to see why, it's rather like an R-rated sitcom lost on the big screen. While Shores isn't exactly erratic as a director, he's possibly too flexible with his material and his group of actors, and the movie sometimes resembles nothing more than a stunt. There's not much plot (it's just an exercise in showcasing the worst possible sides of humanity for a dirty laugh), yet some good things do come out of this. Leslie Jordan pulls off a difficult transvestite role with un-self-conscious relish; not played for pitiable sympathy or all-out laughs, Jordan's Tammy Wynette-worshipping drag queen amiably walks a fine line--it's a portrayal dead-on in its accuracy, and Jordan is never a pain like the other characters. Delta Burke and Bonnie Bedelia visibly strain to punch up their scenes, while Olivia Newton-John opens the picture with a rousing song but is given nothing else important to do. Too many of the gags are recycled, rehashed and rerun, and the jokes tend to stem from various humiliations. Strictly as a curiosity, the movie certainly lives up to its oddball reputation, and there are some outré laughs for those in the proper spirit. ** from ****
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