- Street Date:
- September 30th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Bryan Kluger
- Review Date: 1
- January 25th, 2016
- Movie Release Year:
- Wolfe Video
- 111 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
A lot of people say that this film version of 'Sordid Lives' based off of Del Shores's play of the same name is a cult classic. You won't find John Waters's raunchiness nor 'Evil Dead's' gore here, which could make something a cult classic. This film came out in 2000 and won a bunch of awards, mostly at GLBT Film Festivals, as this centers around that community in a very rural small Texas town, which is usually unheard of in the rural parts of the South.
With an all-star cast, including Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Bonnie Bedelia, Leslie Jordan, and a small cameo from Olivia Newton-John; director Del Shores tells a story that mixes music and over-the-top silliness with tragedy all in one fell swoop. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. With 'Sordid Lives', it mostly works on a "cult" level, as very few films have been told in the manner as this one has. It's not all quite cohesive nor are any of the characters really relatable to a realistic standard, but the heart and soul is completely there, which makes this film a one-of-a-kind experience.
After viewing the film, you'll be able to see why so many people took a liking to it and made it an instant cult classic of the modern era. If you're unfamiliar with the story, 'Sordid Lives' picks up when Peggy Ingram (Gloria LeRoy), the family matriarch suddenly dies in her small town, which causes a big fuss where everyone is sad that she passed. Peggy was loved by all, and her family comes to set the funeral stage. Peggy's sister and daughters and other family members come to town to pay their respects and bury Peggy.
In reality, each one of them talks through their own personal demons and struggles, including finally coming out of the closet and being accepted. Del Shores's comedy here is subtle, in that if you're not from the South, a lot of jokes will more than likely fly over your head, but for those of you who live or have visited the South often, you'll feel right at home with the many tiny jokes that are strewed all over the place.
When not being subtle, Del Shores hits you over the head with the same running gag that becomes redundant and over the top. He does interject some fairly emotional strings throughout, which all hit their notes, but it doesn't flow like it should, which is one of the reasons this is in fact a trashy comedy drama -- but in a good way.
'Sordid Lives' plays out like a John Waters film, but without all of the majorly gross out gags and Divine. The film works on a lot of levels, but fails in others, but that's the point here as it is in life. I have no doubt you'll find something to like about 'Sordid Lives'.
'Sordid Lives' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray and DVD from Wolfe Video and is Region A locked. The discs are housed in a hard blue plastic case. There is no insert here. There are a couple of trailers that play before the main menu.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Sordid Lives' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This was shot on digital cameras back in 1999, which was right when the digital form and cameras were emerging. It was also when a lot of the digital bugs were still infecting the cameras before everything was fixed, which is more or less the case here with this Blu-ray. Still, the transfer is fairly good, having a vivid and sharp detail that shows exquisite closeups. Makeup blemishes, wrinkles, and individual hairs show up nicely.
Wider shots looks a bit softer, though. Colors are bright and pop off screen in this small town with great primaries thrown in everywhere. Black levels are mostly good, although there is some crush throughout. Contrast is uneven and there is some video noise and motion blur as well. Skin tones remain natural for the most part and all other issues are very minor. Despite the flaws with this video presentation, this is still a good image.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
This release comes with a lossless Dolby Digital MA 5.1 mix as well as a Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 option. There isn't much to this audio mix really, as the film itself is just basically a bunch of people talking one on one and such, so there isn't really any room for big sound effects or ambient noises to go around the speaker spectrum. There are some sound effects and ambient noises that do creep in, but it's not often and on the low-key side of things.
Do not expect a fully immersive situation here, other than listening to a few people discuss their problems in small rooms. There are some instances with music, which sounds good, but usually the dialogue overtakes it. Speaking of the dialogue, it is always crystal clear and easy to follow, but at times can be on the loud side, and not as well balanced with the other sounds. The LFE is good and the dynamic range is fairly wide. Being a dialogue centric film, this disc does its job, despite a few hiccups.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Audio Commentary - This is the only extra that was imported from the DVD release, which has the cast and crew talking about making the film.
Interview with Del Shores (HD, 12 Mins.) - Del Shores discusses the themes of the film, how its impacted his life over the years and the casting process.
Interview with the Cast (HD, 24 Mins.) - The cast talk about their fond memories making the movie and how people still come up today and talk to them about the film.
Trailer (HD, 7 Mins.) - A trailer for 'Sordid Lives' as well as a couple other films.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no HD exclusives.
'Sordid Lives' is indeed a cult classic for its crazy and over-the-top storyline and silliness that mixes raw emotions throughout. There is also a crazy cast including Delta Burke and Olivia Newton-John, which should be considered a cult classic anyway with those two starring. Recently, Del Shores said that he is working on two sequel films, which should no doubt make his fans happy, but if you're new to this movie, you'll want to give it a shot, because you haven't seen anything quite like it, even if it has flaws, but hey, we all do. The video and audio presentations are not the best, but are passable, and the extras are worth the watch, even if they are sparse. Since this is a one-of-a-kind film, I'm going to recommend!
- 50GB Blu-ray Disc + DVD
- 1080p MPEG-4 AVC
- English: Dolby Digital 5.1
- English: Dolby Digital 2.0
- Audio Commentary
- New Interview with Del Shores
- New interviews with cast and crew
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