THE FILM: Many years ago I watched LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, which this film is based on, and incidentally was one of the first foreign language films I ever saw. From what I remember, it was a laugh-riot from beginning to end, and was very economical at 96 minutes. THE BIRDCAGE, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman, tells essentially the same story but with an American bent. While I can respect the changes that were made, at about 25 minutes longer things could have been more streamlined than they were. Here, Robin Williams plays a more subtle comedic character as Armand, the owner of the titular Birdcage, a drag club where his partner Albert (Nathan Lane) is the star performer. When his son Val comes home for a visit, he tells his father that he is getting married, but to the daughter of a conservative Senator. The comedy of errors that ensues has to be seen to be believed, and in my mind was as funny as the original. Robin Williams was very effective in playing the "straight" man to Nathan Lane's hysterical queen, and both played off of each other very well. Gene Hackman was also pretty hilarious as a stereotypically backwards-minded right-winger. Overall, while a remake of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES might not have been necessary, THE BIRDCAGE is pretty funny, if a little long-winded in parts. It has a great cast who all perform very well together, with special mention going to Hank Azaria as Armand and Albert's butler Agador. It also had a fine soundtrack as well. Bottom line: Robin Williams fans should enjoy this, as long as the satirical jabs at Republicans don't offend them, and fans of the French original should find plenty to like here as well.
THE DISC: As usual, MGM delivers yet another barebones release. Pitiful, really. Still, the film looks great.
OVERALL: Fans of Robin Williams would be remiss for not picking this up on Blu-ray, even if MGM typically muffs up their HD releases.