LGBT Info

The Birdcage is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Mike Nichols, adapted by Elaine May, and starring Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski appear in supporting roles. It is a remake of the 1978 Franco-Italian film La Cage aux Folles by Édouard Molinaro starring Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi.


Plot

Armand Goldman is the openly-gay owner of a drag club in South Beach called The Birdcage; his life partner Albert, an effeminate and flamboyant man, plays Starina, the star attraction of the club. They live together in an apartment above The Birdcage with Agador, their flamboyant Guatemalan housekeeper who aspires to be in Albert's drag show.

One day, Armand's son Val, who resulted from Armand's drunken tryst with a woman named Katharine, comes home to announce that he has been seeing a young woman named Barbara whom he intends to marry. Although unhappy about the news, Armand agrees to support his son. Unfortunately, Barbara's parents are the ultra-conservative Republican Senator Kevin Keeley and his wife Louise.

Kevin, co-founder of a conservative group called the Coalition for Moral Order, becomes embroiled in a political scandal when his co-founder and fellow senator is found dead in the bed of an underage black escort. Louise and Barbara convince Kevin that a visit to meet the family of his daughter's fiancé would be the perfect way to stave off bad press, so they set out for South Beach.

Barbara shares news of her father's plan to Val; to cover the Goldmans' truth, she has told her parents that Armand is straight and a cultural attaché to Greece. Armand dislikes the idea of being forced into the closet, but agrees to play along, enlisting the help of friends and club employees to redecorate the family's apartment to more closely resemble a traditional household. Val and Armand attempt to get Albert out of the house, but when they fail Albert suggests he'll pose as Val's straight uncle. Armand contacts Katharine and explains the situation; she promises to come to the party and pretend to be his wife. Armand then tries to coach Albert on how to be straight, but Albert's flamboyant nature makes the task difficult. When Albert realizes his plan will not fool anyone, he takes offense and locks himself in his room.

The Keeleys arrive at the Goldmans (who are calling themselves "Coleman" for the evening to hide their Jewish heritage) redecorated apartment; they are greeted by Agador, who is attempting to pass as a Greek butler named Spartacus for the night. Unfortunately, Katharine gets caught in traffic, and the Keeleys begin wondering where "Mrs. Coleman" is. Suddenly, Albert enters, dressed and styled as a conservative middle-aged woman. Armand, Val, and Barbara are nervous, but Kevin and Louise are taken-in by the disguise.

Despite the success of the evening, trouble begins when the senator's chauffeur betrays him to two tabloid journalists, Harry Radman and his photographer, who have been hoping for a scoop on the Coalition story and follow the Keeleys to South Beach. While they research The Birdcage, they also remove a note that Armand has left on the door informing Katharine not to come upstairs. When she arrives, she unknowingly reveals the deceptions, leading Val to confess to the scheme and identify Albert as his true parent.

Kevin is initially confused by the situation, but Louise informs him of the truth and scolds him for being more concerned with his career than his family's happiness. When attempting to leave, he is ambushed by the paparazzi camped outside to take his picture. Albert then realizes that there is a way for the family to escape without being recognized. He dresses them in drag and they use the apartment's back entrance to sneak into The Birdcage where they slowly make their way out of the nightclub without incident. Barbara and Val are married in an interfaith service that both families attend.