Happy Monday to all the men using (and hopefully loving!) ManPlay. Another Monday means another edition of Gay Movie Monday and we’ve got a terrific comedy that is perfect for a late-night sofa session with a date on one of these hot summer nights we’ve all been enjoying. This week we’re talking about the hilarious film The Birdcage, which came out in 1996 (that’s sixteen years ago for those of you keeping score…) and is directed by Mike Nichols.
With a stellar cast that includes Robin Williams, Nathan Lane (the film that really introduced him to most audiences), Christine Baranski, Calista Flochkart, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest and Hank Azaria, the film is laugh-out-loud hilarious (in the days before ‘LOL’) and also genuinely touching as it explores modern family dynamics and tolerance, amongst other ambitions issues. While I’m sure a lot of you have seen this film before (it was a massive hit!) it’s a good one to revisit. I only just re-watched it last week for the first time in many years and instantly knew it should be a part of our Gay Movie Monday series of entries. Whether you’ve never heard of it before (really?!) or know it by heart, read on!
The Birdcage is an American remake of the foreign film La Cage Aux Folles, which itself was an adaptation of a play which was also turned into a musical. Got that? Good! Probably some of you have seen the recent revival of the musical version, which shows the continuing popularity of the premise of the film. The film follows the gay couple Armand and Albert, played by Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, respectively, who own a gay club called The Birdcage. When Armand’s son (the result of a very brief sexual relationship with Katherine, played to perfection by Christine Baranski) announces he is getting married to a Conservative politician’s daughter (Calista Flockhart, in the role that introduced her to millions before Ally McBeal, playing the daughter of Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest), Armand and Albert attempt to ‘butch up’ in an attempt to appease her parents when the two families come together for the first time. In doing so, the flamboyant Albert (who is also a drag performer at The Birdcage) attempts to pass as a woman – with hilarious results. I’ll leave the rest of the plot for you to discover, but as Roger Ebert put it in his original review of the comedy “Imagine everything that can go wrong … and you more or less have the rest of the movie.”
What do you think of this film, ManPlay-ers? Do you think it deserves inclusion in a list of great gay movies or is it too broad of a comedy for your liking? Did you find it too stereotypical in terms of its representation of gay characters? Let me know what you think and if it’s your first time seeing the film or you 100th and if your impression of it has changed if it has been many years since you last saw it! Enjoy!