A Not So Gilded Birdcage

Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams are two of the funniest people ever to have graced this planet.  Put them together in a movie and you’re pretty much guaranteed outrageous hilarity.  That’s what happened in The Birdcage, a remake of the french farce La Cage aux Folles.  In it, Lane and Williams are a gay couple who own a drag club in Miami, Florida where Lane is the star performer.  They are also the parents of college student Val who has fallen in love with fellow student Barbara.  The problem?  Barbara’s father is an ultra-conservative, republican Senator, played by Gene Hackman.  Of course, Barbara’s parents want to meet their potential in-laws before consenting to and announcing the engagement.

To avoid friction, Val asks his fathers to play it straight when the Senator and his family come to visit and the laughs are pretty much non-stop for the rest of the film. 

The Birdcage is one of my favorite films and so naturally, I wanted to share it with my kids.  We gathered around the TV in my bedroom and I put the DVD in the player.  We watched the film and laughed and when it was over, I asked the kids what they thought.  Their answer made me both proud and embarrassed at the same time.

Universally, their comment was that Val, the son, was a selfish brat.  He came home from college and demanded that his parents hide who their true selves.  He made them turn their home — and their lives — upside down rather than risk offending the parents of his fiancee.  I am very proud that my kids found that abhorrent and thought that he should never have asked them to do that.  At the same time, I am embarrassed that I completely overlooked that aspect of the story.   It is, I think, every parent’s hope that their children will be better humans than they were and I think, in my case, that is definitely true.

If you’ve seen the movie, what were your thoughts about this?  Would you still recommend it?  If you haven’t, would you want to?  Would the hilarity outweigh the problematic plot?



This post is part of LGBTQ Families Day 2018.


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