Lowdown: A gay couple needs to pretend otherwise in order to win the conservative parents of their son’s would be wife.
Our Robin Williams festival continued with a big time favourite of mine, The Birdcage. Personal circumstances meant this movie holds much personal value: I’ve watched it at the cinemas shortly after cancer took its toll on my family, I’ve watched it in the company of a great date, and – more to the point – I laughed myself to tears. So hey, why shouldn’t I rewatch this 1996 classic?
Given the relevance of gay marriage in today’s politics, The Birdcage is a breath of fresh air to public debate. On the left corner, it pits the gay parents of a young guy wishing to get married, gay club owner Armand (Williams) and his partner and chief performer Albert (Nathan Lane). In the right corner it’s the conservative morality police and parents of the would be bride (Calista Flockhart), Republican Senator Keeley (Gene Hackman) and his obedient wife (Dianne Wiest). The gay couple’s son comes up with a simple request: arrange a "meet the parents" summit meeting, and – in order for the right to approve the left – pretend to be what the right would consider normal. Even if you're Jewish, gay, and you run/own/live in a gay club.
The loving gay parents do their best to support their child’s ambitions (because gay parents can do that, you know). They pretend. But can they get away with it? Can their maid Agador (Hank Azaria) pretend well enough to help them get away with it? Ultimately, this very liberal spirited movie makes a statement on what it thinks on Liberal Party values. Great comedy and fun aside, I’m fully on the side of The Birdcage.
Just as with the Williams festival predecessor, The Fisher King, The Birdcage relies on four key performances to deliver (Williams, Lane, Hackman and Azaria). Unlike Fisher King, director Mike Nichols steers viewers fluently along. The Birdcage is a movie I’d always be happy to revisit!
Overall: Light and serious at the same time, I just love The Birdcage. 3.5 out of 5 crabs.