You might be thinking “Wait, that movie came out years ago” That is certainly true and I had the unfortunate luck of never seeing it until now. This sub series of reviews will focus on movies that had already came out, but I had never gotten to see. I see it as a way to keep my blog more updated and to share my thoughts on films that had already established a public opinion, just to see if mine differs or concurs. To my defense, I only heard about this movie after the tragic death of Robin Williams (R.I.P) as part of his “best of” gallery of performances. Before then, he was always The Genie in my heart, though I did enjoy many of his other performances (shoutout to “Good Will Hunting”, “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “World’s Best Dad”).
Seeing this film only again proves William’s ability is an actor remains to be unmatched. Enter Nathan Lane….
William’s and Lane are dynamite playing the eccentric couple Armand and Albert Goldman, respectively. Most of their scenes almost feel like they are engaged in a fencing duel to see who can steal the scene and they both make one hell of a team. Armand’s reserved, but engaging demeanor compliments Albert’s drama queen-esque personality. I would have loved a TV show just focused on them two; though I do see the similarities between the Goldmans and Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family.
The plot kicks off when Armand and Albert’s son, Val, makes a surprise visit to the titular Miami drag queen nightclub “The Birdcage”, a club that Armand owns and Albert regularly performs at. Val’s surprise visit is followed by a surprise announcement that he intends to marry Barbara Keely, a girl he recently met and slept with. As if his son marrying at such a young age (Val is 21, Barbara is 18) wasn’t worrisome for the Goldmans, they are hit with the news that Barbara comes from a strict conservative politician family who are in the midst of a scandal as the patriarch, Kevin Keely, is up for re-election. Okay, that’s pretty bad, but is that it? Nope! Those crazy kids want their parents to meet…tomorrow night…at the Goldman residence….which resides on top of The Birdcage. Cue the zany antics!!
And there you go. The film then splits into multiple story arches climbing up to the climatic meet up. Some of these story arches kind of drag the film. For instance, the Keely’s story arch seemed to be the weakest part of the film. Geen Hackman and Diane Wiest, who play the Keely parents, do okay but they come off as ridiculous, air headed human beings (and I’m not just saying that because they are conservative). But here’s some perspective. When you make the Goldmans look less silly than your family, who are supposed to be high class, stern and of political background, then you might be doing something wrong. Who knows? That might be the point of the film.
Another story arch I thought was superfluous was the whole scandal with the Keelys. Long Story Short. Keely is a co-founder of a political society that fight for traditional values, but when another co-founder is found in a compromising situation, the media goes bananas. It didn’t feel like it contributed anything to the film’s plot except building up to the film’s end, which I thought was kind of weak but I still liked it enough that I had a smile on my face. Yes, we know. Reporters can be snarky, weasel-like parasites who are always looking for the next big story. We get it. I just don’t understand why they were necessary in this film.
Overall, the film is carried mostly by Williams and Lane’s performances and nifty direction from Mike Nichols (also R.I.P) and it sends a good LGBT-themed message that gave the film more heart. I’m actually surprised that the film didn’t receive any backlash for its content, being that it was released in 1996. But hey! I’m not gonna complain!
Here’s a blog post that talks more about family values and how The Birdcage’s involvement with it if you’re interested: http://www.amc.com/talk/2008/07/family-values-the-birdcage
Most likely to love it: Fans of Robin Williams, the LGBT, White Wine Lovers
Most likely to hate it: Close minded Conservatives, Red Wine Lovers (Tannins!!)