You don’t have to know anything about the Sordid Lives phenomenon to be tickled pink by the latest entry in the series, A Very Sordid Wedding. In 1996, Del Shores’s fourth play, Sordid Lives, debuted in Los Angeles, a very personal work about his coming out to his Southern Baptist family. He turned the play into a 2000 film with an all-star cast, including Bonnie Bedelia, Delta Burke, Beau Bridges, and Olivia Newton-John. That was followed in 2008 by a twelve-episode prequel series on Logo, with Caroline Rhea, Rue McLanahan, Jason Dottley, and a few others taking over some of the roles. And now comes A Very Sordid Wedding, a sequel set in 2015, right after same-sex marriage is made legal throughout the United States. But in Winters, Texas, the Supreme Being trumps the Supreme Court, so the new minister, Reverend Jimmy Ray Barnes (Levi Kreis), has decided to throw an “Anti-Equality Revival” to keep gay marriage out of the county. Latrelle Williamson (Bedelia), however, has had a change of heart since learning that her son, Ty (Kirk Geiger), is gay and in love with Kyle (T. Ashanti Mozelle), so she has decided to fight the church on this issue. Meanwhile, Latrelle’s long-estranged sibling, aging drag performer Brother Boy (Emmy winner Leslie Jordan), meets up with escaped serial killer Billy Joe Dobson (producer Emerson Collins); the divorced Noleta Nethercott (Rhea) strikes up a passionate affair with the hunky, hospitalized Hardy (Aleks Paunovic), making her ex-husband, G.W. (David Steen), jealous; Sissy Hickey (Dale Dickey) has read the Bible cover to cover; Latrelle’s ex-husband, Wilson (Michael MacRae), has settled down with the much younger Greta (Katherine Bailess); Jesus-loving convenience store owner Vera Lisso (Lorna Scott) has helped form a homosexual-hating group; and the saucy Juanita Bartlett (Sarah Hunley) continues to share whatever is in her crazy mind. Also back are Ann Walker as LaVonda Dupree, David Cowgill as Odell Owens, Newell Alexander as bar owner Wardell Owens, Rosemary Alexander as Dr. Eve, and Scott Presley as hairdresser Roger. Things come to a head when a memorial party for Latrelle’s mother (McLanahan) is scheduled to take place at the same time as the antigay service.
A kind of alternate version of Steel Magnolias without the weeping, A Very Sordid Wedding is charming and engaging from the get-go. Except for a treacly finale that is overly preachy, the film treats its timely subject matter with laugh-out-loud humor and a touch of elegance. Two-time Emmy nominee Bedelia (Heart Like a Wheel, Parenthood) is in fine form as the graceful Latrelle, who is the heart and soul of the film, a woman who is more complex than one might initially think as Shores (Southern Baptist Sissies, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife) plays with stereotypes. Of course, she changes her mind about homosexuality and the LGBTQ community primarily because her son is gay, not because of any sudden empathy and compassion for all human beings, but at least she’s willing to stand up for what’s right. There’s plenty of wackiness to go around as well, with lots of lovable characters and some rather poignant moments about love and acceptance of all kinds. In advance of its October 17 release on DVD, Blu-ray, and iTunes, A Very Sordid Wedding is making its red carpet New York City premiere, presented by NewFest, on October 2 at 8:00 at the SVA Theatre and will be followed by a Q&A with Jordan, Rhea, Shores, Collins, Walker, and Blake McIver, who plays Peter in the film and sings “This Is Who We Are” on the soundtrack; there will also be a reception.