United Artists | Release Date: March 8, 1996
7.6
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Generally favorable reviews based on 34 Ratings
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8
SpangleMar 7, 2017
What does a young man do when his gay parents must meet the ultra conservative parents of his fiance? Well, he tries to get them to play it straight for just a single night. Unfortunately, there is no holding down dynamic duo Armond (RobinWhat does a young man do when his gay parents must meet the ultra conservative parents of his fiance? Well, he tries to get them to play it straight for just a single night. Unfortunately, there is no holding down dynamic duo Armond (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane), not even a co-founder of the coalition for moral order who is the father of the soon-to-be bride. Senator Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman) has his own scandal brewing, however, with his co-founder of the coalition being found dead in a bed with an underage black prostitute who he derogatorily referred to as "chocolate". Bad news for a guy who spent his life ensuring the "natural" family stayed strong. Trying to escape the media frenzy by going with his daughter Barbara (Calista Flockhart) to meet her fiance Val (Dan Futterman) and his parents in South Beach, little does he know that the press coverage is just starting.

Riding high on the comic energy of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, The Birdcage serves as the perfect vehicle for the duo's physical comedy, especially Lane. Though Williams is a comic legend who nails his role as drag club owner Armond, a far more masculine man, the flamboyantly gay drag queen headliner for the club played by Lane is hysterical. In particular, the film is quite funny when Armond plans to let Albert stay for dinner, but as gay uncle Al who walks and talks like John Wayne. Unfortunately, Albert has his own plan and shows up as Val's mother, even with Val's female mother on her way to the dinner. While The Birdcage is undeniably cliche, the absurdity of it all and the comedic tour de force of both simply funny lines and physical comedy put on by Williams and Lane is more than enough to lift the film over the hurdles placed in front of it by those cliches.

That said, The Birdcage is not all comedy. Instead, underneath its surface, is a message of tolerance and acceptance. In a poignant speech to his son Val, who is hardly an **** himself and just trying to make an ill-fated attempt at a good impression, Armond says that yes he is gay. But, it has taken him a lot of time to get where is and he does not care who sees or whether they accept him or not. Albert, similarly, just wants to be himself. He is the "mother" to Val and incredibly flamboyant, but Lane does a great job showing how awkward acting "masculine" is to him. It is not who he is, nor is it what he wants to be. Even their house maid Agador Spartacus (Hank Azaria) is who he wants to be and that is a man who speaks with the stereotypical "gay accent" (for lack of a better term) blended with a Guatemalan accent. It is for these portrayals that the film has been called offensive as they come at a time when the world had still not fully accepted homosexuals as equals and, here, it turned them into jokes. But, crucial to understand is that the film preaches a message of choosing one's own path. All of the characters may be various stereotypes, but they own it. Agador even says he talks exactly how he wants to talk. Lane is not mocked for acting feminine, but rather his comedic height in this film is when he tries to act masculine. It is not even just funny because of him acting masculine, but rather because he is not being himself. The film's message of accepting who you are without care for how others perceive you is what saves it from being offensive. The men on display know they are being stereotypical, but it is who they want to be and who they are. Ultimately, who they are does manage to save Kevin Keeley from scandal, which certainly must also count for something.

Funny, sweet, and charming, The Birdcage is a film about accepting yourself above all else. It is only when they realize this that things begin to go better and the marriage can go ahead without a hitch. The more they pretended to be somebody else, the more troubles they encountered on the dinner. At the end of the day, everybody seems to realize this and it is what allows everything to go on without a hitch at that point on. That said, the film's portrayal of gay characters and some of the dialogue can certainly be offensive to some, but the film does enough to try and normalize homosexuality and show the benefits of being yourself (especially for 1996) to mostly overcome its own stereotypes. While cliche and a remake, The Birdcage is a comedy film that benefits tremendously from excellently funny turns from Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
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8
beingryanjudeSep 4, 2014
One of Mike Nichols' greats--filled with hilarious performances from all of the best. Every great comedy should be just as this is. Long live Nathan Lane and Robin Williams!
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10
kowalskiAug 27, 2011
A truly amazing comedy filled with delightful performances. Lane is particularly memorable, he lets his talent shine and he milks every moment. A can't-be-missed experience!
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10
MsDefibrillatorAug 18, 2014
I've always loved Robin Williams and in light of his recent tragic passing it thought it would be a great idea so revisit some of his movies. This one, i came across from a family members suggestion. I've never heard of it, so i said what theI've always loved Robin Williams and in light of his recent tragic passing it thought it would be a great idea so revisit some of his movies. This one, i came across from a family members suggestion. I've never heard of it, so i said what the hell.

Spectacular movie. Everything was laid out perfectly in my eyes. There was a good amount of humor, serious family issues came up that made me think of my own future (being a lesbian with a partner and kids) and how i want it to be, how i want my children to react to the issues that arose, how i DON'T want them to react... etc.

It was truly delightful and a joy to watch, even a little suspense waiting on certain things to come about.

A must watch. Beautifully made. Big Bravo!
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9
AustinA.Nov 22, 2005
A delicious treat.
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