Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Birdcage (1996)

* * *

The Birdcage, like the club it is named after, is a fun time for the night but just something you do and forget about the next morning. Directed by Mike Nichols, the Birdcage is not as strange or subversive as Closer but flamboyant and charming. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane star as a gay club owner, Armand, and drag queen, Albert, who together raised Armand's son Val. When Val falls in love with Barbara Keeley (Calista Flockhart), the son of right-wing politician Senator Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman), Armand and Albert agree to act as if they have no relationship for the weekend as to not scare away Val's fiancee's family. Williams and Lane are hysterical when on screen together and clearly had a great time improvising with the script. Hank Azaria, known primarily for his many characters on the Simpsons, steals the show as the couple's butler Agador. Nearly everyone line spoken by Azaria is side-splitting and when he, Williams, and Lane are on the screen, watch out. Unfortunately, the good comedic acting, and acting in general, stops here. Hackman and Flockhart put in very average performances and Dan Futterman is sub-amateur as Val. The Birdcage screenplay was adapted from a Broadway show, so there was likely little room to make significant changes and retain authenticity. The film does very little to address actual issues, and the few scenes involving meaningful dialogue are few are far between. Gay rights, homophobia, and tolerance and intolerance are briefly skimmed across and the relationships between characters are not well developed. For these reasons the Birdcage is more fun than it is important and more silly than memorable.

Good For: watching after a few drinks, ladies night

Bad For: homophobes, Larry Craig

The Gallery
The Surfer: * * * *
The Writer * * * *

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