When word gets out that Daddy Buford Turnover is on his deathbed, the children gather at the Texas homestead to be with their father during his last days. Motivated mainly by greed, their primary concern is to determine what each will receive once Daddy’s gone.
Taking care of Buford at his ranch house are his beautician daughter, Sara Lee, and mother-in-law Mama Wheelis. They are joined by the remaining siblings: Orville, a pot-bellied, crude trash collector and his overweight wife, Marlene; Lurlene, the prim well-off wife of a preacher; and, Evalita; a six-time married and hopelessly aspiring country singer who dresses provocatively and brings along her latest lover, Harmony, a long-haired rock musician. (These last two are constantly groping for each other).
Sara Lee drags out the family Bible and dusts it off in a comical manner, giving the impression that the Lord is only needed when someone is about to die. Both she and Lurlene are uneasy with Evalita, the wildest of the three sisters who has just cut a new record but says it’s “none of that Jesus stuff.” All three, though, take turns being appalled at Orville’s crude mistreatment of much put-upon Marlene.
Fearing they have been disinherited, Orville and Evalita begin a frenzied search for Daddy’s misplaced and recently amended will. Watching them sing a hymn as adults just before his death, Buford has a hallucination of seeing them sing around the piano together as children again. In the end, the will is found. Orville and Lurlene are left with a pittance. Evalita, always Daddy’s favorite, gets the lion’s share. However, all is forgiven at the funeral, as the four siblings sing “Precious Memories.”
The laudatory premise indicates that love for one’s family triumphs over all obstacles and, that no matter what the trial, your family will always be there for you. This parallels Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Unfortunately, the premise is not worked out in a biblical manner, due to the infidelity, promiscuity and foul language which flourishes in the Turnover family. Although the Turnover family stays together through it all, their individual families do not fare as well. Harmony leaves Evalita, and Marlene leaves Orville.
Furthermore, the movie indicates, through the character of Lurlene, that regardless of the impact of religion in our lives, all of us are basically the same. Evidently, the film makers don’t understand the difference between being “religious” (Matthew 23:23) and having “Christ in you” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The cinematography is beautiful, with the sun always seeming to be just rising or setting. The acting is good, and Evalita, who sings many of the songs in the movie, has a nice voice. However, because of the obscene language, sexual immorality and innuendoes, recommendation goes against DADDY’S DYING.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Write or call MGM/UA, David Forbes, President, 450 N. Roxbury Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (213) 296-3600.
Numerous obscenities; implied adultery and promiscuity; and, provocative, revealing blouses and sexual innuendoes.