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Sordid Lives
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Genre:Comedy
Year:2000
Rating:R
Length:1h 51mins
Cast:Del Shores, Newell Alexander, Rosemary Alexander, Bonnie Bedelia

Sordid Lives, an over-the-top comedy written and directed by playwright Del Shores, serves up white trash with all the fixin's in home-fried style. The ensemble piece focuses on a dysfunctional southern family stirred into a frenzy by the death of their matriarch. That the old woman died in a motel room after tripping over her lover's prosthetic legs says more than enough about the family's pedigree. Flamboyant performances abound, including Beau Bridges as the amorous amputee and Delta Burke as his fried-chicken-chomping wife. But overlying this Deep South free-for-all is a more serious exploration of homosexuality, revealed in the therapy sessions of the dead woman's gay grandson (Kirk Geiger), who has tried, unsuccessfully, to keep his sexuality secret. Less inhibited about his proclivities is Brother Boy (Leslie Jordan), a flaming drag queen who's been institutionalized for 20 years, lip-syncing Tammy Wynette while an exasperated psychiatrist tries to "dehomosexualize" him. Jordan gives the most colorful performance in a film with a decidedly Day-Glo sensibility. The wild card in this mix is Olivia Newton-John, who plays a local honky-tonk singer with a surprisingly believable southern drawl and a flair for country crooning. Sordid Lives moves from satire to full-blown farce before taking a shot at emotional catharsis, and with such a wide tonal range, it almost bites off more than it can chew. But extremes redeem here, and Sordid Lives works as an unpredictably outrageous mouthful of gay-friendly fun. Gregory Baird

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