‘A Very Sordid Wedding’ is Preachy, but Fun

Bonnie Bedelia, Leslie Jordan, Rue McClanahan (portrait), Dale Dickey and Ann Walker in Del Shores’ A Very Sordid Wedding. Photo credit: Steven K. Johnson.

In 2000, the cult hit Sordid Lives introduced audiences to a few residents of Winters, Texas. Billed as “a black comedy about white trash,” the movie followed the wacky problems of a Southern Baptist family as they gathered for a funeral. The film was noteworthy for the charisma and talent of its ensemble cast and for its darkly sarcastic humor. It was also surprisingly complicated for such a small film, with multiple storylines.

The underrated actress Bonnie Bedelia served as the movie’s emotional and moral core. Her character, Latrelle, struggled to come to terms with the fact that both her brother and her son are gay. Her character arc provided an anchor to the story and also gave the movie some emotionally authentic and touching moments.

Seventeen years later, we have a sequel. A Very Sordid Wedding takes place exactly 17 years after the first film, and all the quirky characters are back (although a few are played by new actors and actresses). It’s pretty much just more Sordid Lives, but with even more camp and even less subtlety.

It’s set right after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, and the town is torn apart by how to handle this. In particular, Latrelle needs to officially reconcile her Southern Baptist upbringing with her growing acceptance of her gay son and brother. Other town members continue to gossip and fight and fall in love. Oh, and there’s a serial killer, too.

If you haven’t seen the first one (or don’t remember it), the characters talk about the main events that have already occurred – the therapy, the affairs, the death by wooden legs. But there are small inside jokes that only people who know the first movie will appreciate, like the cost of cigarettes.

The movie gets pretty preachy and heavy-handed about the issues of gay rights and religious bigotry. But once again, Bonnie Bedelia provides the emotional core of the movie. Her character arc is a good example of the long process that people go through in accepting situations they can’t understand and can’t change.

A Very Sordid Wedding is not a perfect film, and it doesn’t quite live up to the first one. But it is fun and worth watching for those people who have a place in their heart for the citizens of Winters, Texas. It ties up some of the loose ends that the first film left hanging.

It’s also worth watching for anyone who just likes a good bit of campy comedy.

If You Go

 A Very Sordid Wedding opens Friday, July 14, at the Tivoli Cinemas, 4050 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, Mo. The 7 p.m. screening on opening night will feature an Audience Q&A with producer and co-star Emerson Collins, who plays Billy Joe Dobson in the film. www.tivolikc.com/upcoming.html#wedding

Watch the trailer here:  https://youtu.be/TLUcy3Z-LVc