Funeral Rights

A Southern family confronts death, homosexuality, and repression (but not in that order)

Shores intersplices long scenes together in the apparent hope of making them seem shorter that way, but he doesn't pull it off: You're left wishing he'd simply stay with the scene he just cut away from. When LaVonda and Noleta suddenly decide, about two-thirds of the way through the story, to literally become Thelma and Louise, it comes out of nowhere, as do their subsequent madcap antics. Onstage this might have been a neat trick to shock the audience. Onscreen, it elicits a big "huh?" Having just spent more than an hour with these folks, couldn't we have a better buildup?

Throw some cross-dressing in with a Southern lilt, and things get sordid
Throw some cross-dressing in with a Southern lilt, and things get sordid

Details

Based on a play by Del Shores. Opening at the Mercury Theatre.

Shores also doesn't seem to know whose story he's telling. The movie begins with Latrelle's gay son Ty (Kirk Geiger) confessing all, but his tale is mostly irrelevant to the funeral happenings, even though we keep cutting back to his therapy escapades in L.A. (allowing for many L.A. theater-scene in-jokes). Brother Boy is the most captivating, comedic, and pathos-laden character (many kudos to Leslie Jordan), but because he's trapped in an institution, he can't exactly be our protagonist. Latrelle seems the best candidate, as her emotional epiphany is really the climax of the piece, but since she's been relegated to the sidelines for the first half, she doesn't have the impact she should. Old pros Bridges and Newton-John are just fine, but minor players in the tale.

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