We are family
The Birdcage is a hilarious comedy that was made in 1996. 28 years later you would think that things would be better and not worse for gay couples and drag queens. Unfortunately, this is not the way things are today. It is infuriating and sad that a movie like this one probably could not be made at this day and time. There is nothing funny about today’s bigotry.
That sobering reality aside, this movie is and almost perfectly orchestrated comedy because of the superior acting of Robin Willaims (Armand Goldman) and Nathan Lane (Albert), Robin’s way over the top drag queen partner, who is also the headliner at Armand Goldman’s Gay Cabaret night club. Albert is just a smoking, or should I say flaming drag queen, who makes no pretense about who he is. He is just simply adorable.
Life was just fine, in spite of, or maybe because of Albert’s emotional precariousness. But, in any sunshine, a little rain must fall. Arman had a 20-year-old son. Yes, a son that was sired the old-fashioned way with a woman! Oh, my! Yes, this was the son Val (Dan Futterman) who was adored by both Albert and his dad, but Val wanted to get married…And yes, to a woman. This could and should have all been well and good, but Barbara was the daughter of a Trumpian MAGA type hater, (Gene Hackman) who was running for the Senate in Ohio as a Republican phony moralist.
Here is where the Spoilers End, but Senator Keeley is not the only one who has hypocrisy to display as the inevitable meeting of the future In-Laws in play, with different goals for different outcomes. What ensues with the bizarre dinner party meeting is as hilarious as it is fulfilling. All of the players rise to the very pinnacle of their respective performance, and nothing, I mean literally nothing, is left on the dinner table. Why Nathan Lane did not win an Academy Award for his performance, I will never know. Wait…I do know.
The acting and dialogue in this movie are just superb. One hallmark of a great movie is whether or not the audience cares about the characters in the movie. With The Birdcage, the connection is immediate and forever. Albert prances up and down the streets a foot above the ground, but everyone embraces and loves him. Albert is always paranoid about his relationship, but Armand loves and adores him, in spite of his fragility and paranoia.
The Birdcage is in a class of its own. Also, special mention goes out to Hank Azaria who was outstanding as the ditzy Houseboy Agador. He was even more unhinged and flamboyant than Albert, if that is possible. These three, along with the superstar Gene Hackman, made The Birdcage one of my favorite comedies.