Classics: The Birdcage

Everything good in my life, I get from my mom, including this movie. I remember her coming across it in the guide and her telling me I had to see this movie. Had no idea what this movie was about, and she didn’t tell me, but she said Nathan Lane and Robin Williams and I said, “Cool!” So I’m watching this film and I am DYING LAUGHING.

For those who don’t know The Birdcage is a remake of a play called La Cage aux Folles, described as French farce written in 1973 by Jean Poiret. It’s the story of a man who wants to propose to the love of his life who happens to be the daughter of a very conservative Republican senator while he is the son of a gay Miami nightclub owner whose husband is the star attraction, Starina, and very, very flamboyantly gay. After a scandal between a black prostitute and his co-founder of his conservative group, Kevin Keely, the conservative dad, thinks it will be good press if they go to Miami and meet their daughter’s future in-laws who they don’t know are two gay men with an equally gay housekeeper. Hilarity ensues.

The reason I love this movie is based in it’s absurdity. When I saw the movie and Nathan Lane’s character, Albert, volunteers to be the “straight uncle” for the weekend, I hollered because it is CLEAR that he would not be able to be straight for an hour. Now, it is to be noted that Val, the son, was conceived by his dad, Armand and his “mom” Katherine. She was supposed to come and pretend to be Armand’s wife. If you watch the film, you will see how that goes.

At the time I had seen the movie, I hadn’t been to South Beach nor did I have the obsession with “Rupaul’s Drag Race” that I do now, but I did have an appreciation for gay culture. Gay culture never felt weird to me. It was just another facet of someone else’s life. I find other people’s life interesting. Later in life, I also appreciated the tie between being Jewish and being gay. Religion and queer life have never gone together and I find it fascinating when a movie can meld those two together. Nathan Lane and Robin Williams are a match made in heaven, and when you see the scene with Agador, you will die laughing and you will chuckle every time you hear “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer. A gay classic from one of the queens of the gays!

The goal of the film is to get across a hidden message of tolerance, for lack of a better term, and understanding. The conservative family never got a chance to know gay people for themselves, There religion, like most, told them that being queer, gay or lesbian was an abomination. Let me tell you, any man that can draw an eyebrow and do a smoky eye better than a woman is a magician! There are women now, like myself, who wish they could do their makeup half as well as a drag queen. But back to my point, the family was able to find out for themselves just who Val and his parents were and they actually helped save Kevin’s career without a second thought.

Like I said, it’s an unconventional Father’s Day movie but I think we should remember to celebrate all fathers on Father’s Day. This is a film that can remind us of that.

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