The Birdcage

The Birdcage is an interesting and hilarious movie, which not only has a lot of suspense and humour, but also touches upon important social issues which are relevant today.

Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane) are two gay parents, with a son Val (Dan Futterman), who is the result of Armand's one and only sexual encounter with the opposite sex. Armand is also the owner of a transgender nightclub (with the same name as the movie) on Miami's South Beach, with Albert starring as Starina, the main attraction. When Albert and Armand are not busy with the nightclub, they are playing the role of mom and dad, respectively.

Val, who is 20, decides to get married to Barbara (Calista Flockhart), who is the daughter of an ultra-conservative Senator, Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman) and a ditzy political wife (Dianne Weist). Keeley, who is also the co-founder of The Coalition For Moral Order, is thrown into a bit of controversy when the President of the Coalition is found dead in bed with a Black underaged prostitute. Val and Barbara fear (and rightfully so) how their parents will interact when they meet, and thus Val convinces Armand that they should be "normal" for one day when the Keeley's visit for dinner to get away from the media feeding frenzy.

The film plays on stereotypes to entertain, and laughs at those who take the stereotypes too seriously. Williams is decidedly uncomfortable in his role as Armand, but that does translate well for someone who's the owner of a busy nightclub and who manages a tempermental star. There is hardly a time when he gets to steal the spotlight, except for a brief moment when he goes through a sequence of dances which are tiny indications of Williams' comic abilities (which are vastly underutilised in the movie).

Even though the outcome of the dinner is predictable, there is a great deal of suspense maintained throughout, thanks to the spectacular acting of Nathan Lane (who, incidentally, will be starring in the Broadway version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) who goes all out for his role as Val's mom, and Hank Azaria playing the role of Agador Spartacus, a Guatemalan housekeeper, who almost steals the show.

This is one of the funniest movies I've seen so far this year, and while there are moments when it seems to the drag on, it's definitely worth watching on the big screen---just to see Gene Hackman as a transvestite singing "we are family."

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||