The Birdcage 1996
In this remake of the classic French farce “La Cage aux Folles,” engaged couple Val Goldman (Dan Futterman) and Barbara Keeley (Calista Flockhart) shakily introduce their future in-laws. Val’s father, Armand (Robin Williams), a gay Miami drag club owner, pretends to be straight and attempts to hide his relationship with Albert (Nathan Lane), his life partner and the club’s flamboyant star attraction, so as to please Barbara’s father, controversial Republican Sen. Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman).
The Birdcage is an American remake of the French comedy film La Cage aux Folles, about a gay couple who run a nightclub for female impersonators trying to pass for straight one night so that the son of one can marry the daughter of homophobic parents. Reset from the French Riviera to Miami and starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, it employs a soundtrack that combines Latin pop (Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine’s hit “Conga”) with disco hits (Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” and a soundalike version of “We Are Family”) and, oddly enough, a few songs written by Broadway composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The oddity comes in when one recalls that La Cage aux Folles previously was adapted into a Broadway musical by Jerry Herman, a rival of Sondheim’s who notoriously gloated when La Cage won the 1984 Tony Award over Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. Actually only one of the songs, a slight number called “Little Dream,” is a new composition. The suggestive “Can That Boy Foxtrot,” flamboyantly sung by Lane, and “Love Is in the Air,” an impromptu duet by Williams and Christine Baranski, are both old songs that were cut from the scores of Sondheim musicals. The resulting score is an odd mixture of dance tracks and clever show tunes either tossed off or arranged into a ’30s pastiche style.
Video: The Birdcage 1996