The Birdcage (1996)


Meet our next guest reviewer, Felicia! She was supposed to be our first guest review, but… well, we’ll let her explain:

So I was supposed to do a guest review for Austin Powers, Ben couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, and unfortunately for him I didn’t like it. Short of giving it a resounding F I didn’t know what to write, so we all agreed I wouldn’t write a review.

The Birdcage was a different story thankfully! I loved it, it was absolutely hilarious, I found myself laughing out loud the entire movie, something I rarely do.

Robin Williams, as Armond, put on a great performance as always, his humor is universal and he always makes me laugh. The scene where he is teaching Nathan Lane to butter bread had me in stitches!

I think the stand out in this movie though was Nathan Lane as Albert. He was as camp as could be and every little thing he did had me giggling, truly a great performance. He even gave Robin a run for his money when he dressed up as Dan Futterman’s mum, Mrs. Doubtfire eat your heart out.

Hank Azaria provided great comic relief throughout the movie, not like it didn’t have plenty already, and his ability to pull of short shorts had me green with envy.

I seriously enjoyed this movie and will definitely watch it again and again!

Rating: A-

This is a movie that really delivers. Every single time I watch it I laugh hysterically.

The Birdcage basically has everything that makes a great comedy. For starters, it stars three comic geniuses: Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Hank Azaria. These men are all so hilarious that’s it’s hard to pick a favorite. You’d think that Williams would naturally be the best, but Lane and Azaria each steal their fair share of scenes. All three play gay men, and while they often fall into stereotypes, there’s enough seriousness and heart to make up for this. Plus, this was made in the mid-90s. Any positive portrayal of gay people would have been rare, and rarer still to find a positive portrayal of gay men as loving parents.

The straight characters (pun intended) are also great, and provide a perfect wall for Williams & Friends to bounce their ridiculousness off of. Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest shine as a traditional couple who are utterly shocked by anything outside “the norm.” They are almost always the butt of the jokes, but they play it so incredibly well.

Finally, this has the sort of convoluted, strange plot that is so ridiculous it’s good. Williams fathered a son 20 years ago (Dan Futterman, great name), who he has raised with his partner, Lane. Futterman becomes engaged to Calista Flockhart, who just happens to be the daughter of a conservative politician (Hackman) running on a family values platform. In order to temporarily keep the peace and avoid scandal, Futterman asks his fathers to “act normal” just for one night. We are then treated to the weirdest dinner party ever, with Williams and Azaria trying to act straight, Lane trying to act like a woman, and Futterman and Flockhart trying to act like everything is normal.

While this is without a doubt a great comedy, it also speaks to the importance of family. Williams and Lane’s reaction to their son’s engagement is the same as Hackman and Wiest’s when their daughter tells them the good news. They both care about their child’s happiness, and also worry about his and her future. Both couples are also willing to go to great lengths to please their kid, and risk personal embarrassment in doing so. It doesn’t matter that one pair happens to be a gay couple, they’re all just nervous parents thrown into an unfamiliar situation.

Rating: A

I really love this film. About once a year I’ll put it on when I need a good laugh. It delivers every time because it really is funny. Even after multiple viewings, The Birdcage will still make me laugh out loud. It has almost becomes funnier now that the Republican Party has embraced their old time values more and more since the film came out in the mid 90s.

Robin Williams stars as Armond, a gay nightclub owner. He owns The Birdcage club, Miami’s hottest spot for gay and transgender people. The star of the show at The Birdcage is Albert (Nathan Lane), Armond’s lover. Lane is brilliant as the over the top gay stereotype. Every mannerism and over the top shriek makes you laugh. I’m really surprised Lane’s performance wasn’t praised more than it was. He really steals this movie and is definitely the star of the show. This is no small feat given he’s sharing the screen with of the funniest men in the world, Robin Williams.

The plot of this film is convoluted, but you go along with it because the cast are so entertaining. Years earlier, Armond had one role in the hay with a female (Christine Baranski) that produced his son Val (Dan Futterman). When Val announces he is engaged to be married to the daughter of a prominent Republican politician, Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman), it’s time for the parents to meet. An extreme Republican cannot be seen fraternising with gay people, so Val requests that Armond hide his lifestyle from the Keeleys, at least until he’s married.

The film revolves around a dinner party where Val’s parents meet the Keeleys, while trying to hide the fact that they’re gay. Problems occur because Armond lives above his gay nightclub, has a raging man servant (Hank Azaria) as a waiter, and also has to attempt to hide Albert. There is so much going on in this film, there is never a dull moment.

I must also mention Hank Azaria as Agador. He is so funny as his life is turned upside down when the Keeleys come over for dinner. Ordinarily he’d be walking around barefoot in cut off shorts and no shirt, but in order to convince the Keeleys they’re a ‘normal’ family, he must wear shoes and a waiter’s uniform. Watching him slip over constantly because he has to wear shoes is really juvenile comedy, but it’s hilarious.

If you like to laugh, check this film out. I love it. The film was originally a play and I think this would be a brilliant show to see live. I’d love to see it someday.

Rating: A

One thought on “The Birdcage (1996)

  1. Pingback: Hook (1991) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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