The Birdcage | Chicago Reader

The Birdcage

Rated R 117 minutes 1996

One reason for seeing this 1996 Americanized remake of La Cage aux Folles—the French farce about a middle-aged gay couple—is its hilarious depiction of conservative columnist Patrick J. Buchanan as played by Gene Hackman, which implies, among other things, that only a drag queen could adequately fulfill Buchanan's vision of ideal womanhood. Written by Elaine May, and produced and directed by her old comedy partner, Mike Nichols, the film tells the story of a Florida nightclub proprietor (Robin Williams) whose son becomes engaged to the daughter of an ultraconservative senator (Hackman). A pending visit from the future in-laws leads to frantic preparations for a dinner party at which the proprietor's drag-queen partner (Nathan Lane) winds up posing as the boy's mother. This isn't the supreme masterpiece it might have been, but Nichols's direction is very polished and some of the lines and details are awfully funny.

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