Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Hollywood has had a little cottage industry in recent years, turning out American retreads of French films. Now comes the remake of the most seductive target, the comedy "La Cage aux Folles" (1978), which is about a gay man whose son wants him to play it straight for a few days. All of this will be familiar if you've seen the original, or the two sequels, or the Broadway version.
"The Birdcage" isn't about plot, anyway. It's about character, and about the twisted logic of screwball comedy, in which everybody acts the craziest just when they're trying to make the most sense.
What makes Mike Nichols' version more than just a retread is good casting in the key roles, and a wicked screenplay by Elaine May, who keeps the original story but adds little zingers here and there ("Live on Fisher Island and get buried in Palm Beach - that way you'll get the best of Florida!").
The movie stars Robin Williams as Armand Goldman, the owner-operator of a drag revue on South Beach. He lives upstairs over his nightclub with Albert (Nathan Lane), the star of the show, who has been his lover for some 20 years. Albert is a basket case, threatened by encroaching age and insecurity. He functions only because Agador (Hank Azaria), the flamboyant houseboy, tranquilizes him with Pirin tablets. ("They're just aspirin with the `as' scraped off," Agador confides to Armand.) A crisis. Armand's son Val (Dan Futterman) has become engaged (to a girl, I should add), and wants to bring her home to meet his dad, but not "Auntie Albert." The complication is that his fiancee's father is a conservative senator (Gene Hackman), who leads the Coalition for Moral Order and thinks the pope is too controversial and Billy Graham too liberal.