Sordid Lives

Stagy and coarse, this big ol' Southern-fried mess of strenuous eccentricity involves a Texas family whose skeleton-filled closets are ripped open when the clan gathers for the funeral of matriarch Peggy Ingram (Gloria LeRoy). Peggy's daughters are easy-going, good-time gal LaVonda (Ann Walker) and uptight Lattrelle (Bonnie Bedelia), who's mortified that...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Stagy and coarse, this big ol' Southern-fried mess of strenuous eccentricity involves a Texas family whose skeleton-filled closets are ripped open when the clan gathers for the funeral of matriarch Peggy Ingram (Gloria LeRoy). Peggy's daughters are easy-going, good-time gal LaVonda (Ann Walker) and uptight Lattrelle (Bonnie Bedelia), who's mortified that mama not only had the bad taste to die in a sleazy motel room after tripping over her lover's wooden legs, but had become best friends with honky-tonk honey Bitsy Mae Harling (Olivia Newton-John), a lesbian ex-con who strums a mean guitar. Lattrelle and LaVonda butt big-haired heads most vigorously over the fate of their younger brother, "Brother Boy" Earl (Leslie Jordan), a gay transvestite with a serious Tammy Wynette fixation, whom their mother institutionalized 23 years earlier. LaVonda wants to bring him home, while Lattrelle would prefer he remain out of sight and out of mind. Though she'd never admit it, Lattrelle's determination to keep Brother Boy in the closet may be related to the homosexuality of only son, Ty (Kirk Geiger), an LA-based, former soap star. LaVonda, meanwhile, must patch things up with her best friend Noleta (Delta Burke), whose husband, G.W. (Beau Bridges), was the wooden-legged lover in the motel room with mama. Much of the colorful confrontation takes place in the home of LaVonda and Lattrelle's good-hearted aunt, Sissy (Beth Grant), who's trying to quit smoking but is driven back to butts by the incessant bickering. Playwright-turned-director Del Shores seems to specialize in tales of squabbling siblings coming home to Texas for family funerals — he also scripted DADDY'S DYIN'...WHO'S GOT THE WILL? — and his endlessly game cast tries its damnedest to make the cliched gags about self-delusion, tacky décor and hair teased to a fare-the-well seem fresh and even insightful. But they're undermined by Shores' vulgar script, adapted from his own play, and the film's flat, over-lit look (it was shot on high definition digital video) only heightens the resemblance to a low-brow TV sitcom.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Review: Stagy and coarse, this big ol' Southern-fried mess of strenuous eccentricity involves a Texas family whose skeleton-filled closets are ripped open when the clan gathers for the funeral of matriarch Peggy Ingram (Gloria LeRoy). Peggy's daughters are easy-g… (more)

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