‘The Birdcage’ flies

What do you get when you combine an all-star cast, a great script, and an ‘80s pop soundtrack? You get the laugh-out-loud comedic treasure “The Birdcage.” Helmed by directing genius Mike Nichols, this 1996 film is a remake of the French Italian film “La Cage aux Folles” based on the 1973 play of the same name.

Armand Goldman, a middle-aged gay man and owner of The Birdcage, a drag queen nightclub, has just learned that his 20-year old son, Val, wishes to marry his 18-year old girlfriend. Armand, portrayed by funny man Robin Williams, hesitates to give his blessing, but knows his consent will make his son happy.

Val declines to tell his father that his fiancé is the daughter of an ultra conservative Republican family from Ohio, The Keeleys.

Senator Keeley and his wife, played by Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest, cannot digest the news of their newly engaged daughter, Barb. Fearing her parents’ disapproval, she lies to them about her future in-laws.

She boasts that Val’s father is a cultural attaché to Greece, his mother a housewife, and when not in Greece, they live in Florida. She also hides their Jewish heritage by changing their last name to Coleman.

Senator Keeley, who is also co-founder of the Coalition for Moral Order, is hit with more disruptive news when he learns that his political collaborator has just died in the bed of a minor black prostitute.

Fearing a scandal for his political career, Senator and Mrs. Keeley agree that the marriage may be the perfect deflection.

Val and Barb plan a dinner for the parents to meet. The two lovebirds (no pun intended) plan an elaborate scheme to hide the truth about Armand and his long time flamboyantly gay partner, Albert, the star attraction at The Birdcage.

Val begs both Armand and Albert, portrayed by the lively Nathan Lane, to transform into straight men including turning their artistic and ostentatious abode into a dull and boring dwelling.

Albert, afraid he cannot hide his true outlandish ways, dresses in drag to become Val’s “mother”. The effort to pull off has Armand, Albert, and the young couple on edge.

The scene-stealer is the colorful and loyal maid, Agador, played to a tee by the always enjoyable Hank Azaria.

Despite his adversity to shoes and shirts, Agador joins in on the deceitful charade by becoming Spartacus, the butler. Although he does not cook, Spartacus is expected to create an appetizing meal.

Things turn catastrophic when Val’s biological mother, played by Christine Baranski, comes to dinner. Fearing that the plan has now been busted, Val and Barb reveal all.

Shocked and disappointed, the Keeleys attempt to leave only to be berated by paparazzi who have learned about the senator’s political partner.

The only way out is through the nightclub. With the help of Armand and Albert, the Keeleys dress in drag and dance their way out of the club.

Receiving critical acclaim, it’s no wonder that “The Birdcage” is a royal tweetment!


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