The Birdcage

"So this is Hell... and there's a crucifix in it."

When Mike Nichols and Elaine May teamed up again for the first time in over thirty years, it was to adapt Francis Veber’s most famous and celebrated works, the 1978 film la Cage aux Folles. Veber’s films had been remade in English before – in fact, he’d directed a number of them – but this one was the big one so it needed to be big. But would it work with an American audience in the 90s? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Francis Veber and his remakes series with Nichols’ 1996 film The Birdcage.

We talk about the nature of comedy films and the experience of seeing them in theatres versus home alone, and how this one holds up when watched with an audience of one. We look at the transition from Saint-Tropez to Miami and why it works, especially with Bob Dole’s moral majority. We chat about our struggles with Dan Futterman’s character (and Futterman himself) and why he feels so much more selfish in this film than in the original – and what that does to the story. We praise Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski effusively, and compare the writing by May and direction by Nichols for these characters as compared to Futterman and Calista Flockhart. And we chat about Stephen Sondheim and old songs of his repurposed for this film.

It’s a fun romp of a film that holds up about as well as the original. We have a great time talking about it on this week’s show, so check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.

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