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The Independent Critic

Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria
Mike Nichols
Jean Poiret, Elaine May
Rated R
117 Mins.
United Artists
 "The Birdcage" Review 

Mike Nichols' film adaptation of the stageplay for "Birdcage" is a funny, offbeat and politically incorrect film starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion who agree to put up a front of "straightness" when the cabaret owner's son (Dan Futterman) comes home for them to meet his fiancee's conservative, right-wing parents (Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest).

While the film occasionally drifts into stereotypes, they are typically rather harmless and Williams and Lane play off of each other perfectly. They are convincing as a couple that cares, that bickers and that ultimately protects each other. Lane, in particular, is reminiscent of more than a few drag queens I've known in my life (No, silly, not in THAT way!). They are supported in their escapades by a hilarious Hank Azaria as their manservant.

Hackman and Wiest play the perfect uptight parents, and the closing scenes are a hilarious closing to the film. The script is lacking at times, with uneven pacing an definitely lacking in character development. It's most noticeable with Futterman's role, which often plays as lifeless, pointless and too directly opposite from both his mother (Christine Baranski) and mother to be truly believable.

Yet, inherent flaws aside, Birdcage is often funny despite not really aging that well. The chemistry of Lane and Williams helps to create two memorable characters whose relationship, efforts to protect their son and efforts to appear straight are downright hilarious at times. While not quite up to the stage production, the film adaptation of "The Birdcage" is definitely worth a video rental.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic