The Birdcage

“We are family….”

The Birdcage is a remake of the French classic, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, and hopefully will be become a comedy classic all its own. Armand and Albert are a gay couple running a night club in Miami, and Armand finds out his son is getting married. It just so happens he is getting married to an ultra-conservative Senator’s daughter. The Senator is in search of some good PR as his political companion was found dead with a minor prostitute. A wholesome family wedding seems to be the Senators answer for the media, and Val, the straight son, is worried about the Senator meeting his gay parents. Hence the attempt at a transformation to be a straight couple, complete with redecorating their home and changing the way they act…and finally the dinner with the parents.

I have heard a few complaints that all the characters are stereotypical and over the top. Yes, they are. But this film works for that very reason. It is not a film that is begging to be taken to seriously. Even though over the top, the characters are well-developed and likable. Robin Williams (Best supporting Actor Good Will Hunting, The Night Listener, One Hour Photo) give s a spot on performance as Armand and Nathan Lane (The Lion King, Nicholas Nickleby) is perfect as Armand’s mate and star of the Birdcage nightly drag queen show, Starina! Gene Hackman (Best Actor The French Connection, Unforgiven) is a nice casting choice for the conservative senator. The final scene with Gene Hackman dressed in drag and attempting to sing We Are Family, is worth the price of a ticket, or a rental in this case. Ok, since we are talking about performances, by the show stealer is Hank Azaria (Run Fatboy Run, Along Came Polly) who plays the very feminine butler Agador. He nails his performance right on the head. If he is in the scene, he is stealing it! Just a wonderfully funny performance!

Overall, I would highly recommend this film. It has many laugh out loud moments and truly priceless scenes. Mike Nichols (Charlie Wilson’s War, Closer) does a wonderful job of directing this talented cast and keeps this a very colorful and bright film. Visually and emotionally. If you haven’t seen it, do so! As for me, I’ll watch it again, probably for the 15th time.

Year One

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After a day of errands in the Texas sun, nothing sounded better than taking in a movie in the heat of the day. Let me tell you, year one was so funny I think I would have laughed more if I would have sat in the car with my windows rolled up and poached in my own sweat! I tend to find something redeeming in the worst movies, but this one has absolutely no redeeming qualities what so ever.

I was worried about this one in the first few minutes when in the caveman days, they couldn’t even have fun with caveman talk or anything. As far as performances, Jack Black (Nacho Libre) was his over the top self and when he is on, he is funny, but there was nothing to work with and he was nothing more than annoying. Michael Cera (Juno)…well, it’s sad to say, but I think he is already stereotyped as an actor as he is stuck playing the same shy innocent kid, often stumbling on his words. He was doing nothing more than going through his lines, and the lines were awful at that. As far as the other appearances, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin in Superbad) had a role so small he shouldn’t have even been in the movie. As for the other well rounded actors, Oliver Platt (Frost Nixon), Vinnie Jones, Hank Azaria, Xander Berkeley…every dang one of you should be ashamed for taking a paycheck to put out such trash. In fact, everyone in this should give there money back and donate it to a charity so something good will come from this junk movie.

Which brings us to the root of all of this. Harold Ramis. I usually view Harold Ramis as a great comedian, writing such scripts as Analyze This, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack…..see where I am going with this……he is a very funny guy. If this is the best he can offer now…please just retire….that means retire from directing, writing and acting. Harold Ramis was all three in this piece of garbage.

The highlight of the acting….well, it’s a tie. I tie between the tree where the piles of feces was at that Jack Black thought it was funny to pick up, flick his tongue on and even eat. This Poor tree had to make it through that god awful performance, yet stood strong, and knew what it’s role was, a tree…and what a good tree it was. The other performance was from the second rock thrown in the stoning scene, making it through Michael Cera’s lifeless acting, the stone came through with flying colors smashing into his no thinking skull.

If it weren’t for the air conditioning and already invested $4.50 in a coke, I would have walked out very very early. It is enough to sit through a scene watching Mr Black savor the flavors of feces, but the putting up with urine running into someones mouth and up their nose…just a riot! Not that I am opposed to “bathroom” humor at all, I am a guy! But this movie was a poor excuse for a movie and anyone even remotely associated with this should be banned from making further video pollution. I cannot think of any way that this would be funny at all, and my advice, avoid at all costs. You’ll get more pleasure shutting your hand in a car door.

After talking my wife into going to Year One, I am sure my picking movie privileges will be revoked for at least a year and a half. Thanks Harold Ramis for wasting 2 hours of my life.