The Birdcage (Even More Relevant Today)


Very recently, I watched the 1996 film “The Birdcage” from director Mike Nichols, for the first time, and I know what you are probably thinking “ Landon this movie is over 20 years old who cares if you just saw it for the first time?” To answer your fake question I made up, yes, I know its 20 years old, and that no one cares that I finally saw it, but that’s not the point!

If you haven’t seen this film then I recommend seeing it before reading this, it may contain spoilers… You’ve been warned.

After finally watching the movie the first thought I had was, “no one learned a lesson?“ Which isn’t always a bad thing, but it threw me off. Let’s start with the obvious, The Keeleys, especially Sen. Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman). The comedic iron of having an extremely conservative senator have to stay at a gay couples, drag bar in Miami is apparent. What I was expecting to see from his character was not a total transformation, but I at least figured he’s be redeemed, but he wasn’t. Which could have been excusable, but it truly felt like none of the characters were changed in the end, they may have learned to work together, and more or less tolerate each other, but I they are still the same flawed people.

The character who needed a switch kick in the ass was Val Goldman (Dan Futterman). The main plot unfolds because Val is too ashamed to introduce his new fiances family to his gay parents, so he asks them to be “straight” while they were in town… That’s pretty rude… Admittedly at the end he “accepts” Albert (Nathan Lane) as his mother, but it only felt like it happened because the movie kind of demanded it. It may sounds like I am crapping on this film a lot, and I don’t mean to, I actually really enjoyed it. It was just missing the closure most movies of its kind have, and that’s the point.

In real life we rarely get nice storybook endings, most if the time they can be abrupt or forced, but we take the as they are. The Birdcage represents a more “realistic” portrait how how a group of people might learn to tolerate, but not fully accept each other, and they might be all we can ask for.

Landon CoatsComment