Movie Review:
The Birdcage (1996)

The Birdcage (1996)

TITLE: The Birdcage

RELEASE DATE: March 8, 1996




Armand Goldman, the owner of a popular drag club called The Birdcage, and his partner Albert, who is also the club's star performer, live a happy and openly gay life. Their world turns upside down when Armand's son, Val, announces his engagement to Barbara, the daughter of ultra-conservative Senator Kevin Keeley.


With Barbara's family wanting to meet Val's parents, Armand and Albert find themselves in a comedic predicament as they attempt to disguise their flamboyant lifestyle to appear as a conventional family to appease the conservative sensibilities of the Keeleys.


There is commentary on queer culture and the importance of acceptance – from others, our family, and ourselves. There is a constant spotlight on the desire to live authentically to one’s self in this film.

Gender roles and Identity feature heavily throughout. Nathan Lane’s transformation into Val’s mother highlights the fluidity of gender roles and the complexity of self-expression while also underlying the way one must wear masks to meet the expectations of others and the expectations of social norms.

Senator Keeley embodies political hypocrisy, championing moral order while harboring secrets and contradictions, as does Senator Jackson. The Senators’ private lives and their public personas underscore the absurdity of moral absolutism.

Finally, we have themes of family dynamics and unconventional families. The Goldman family is not at all conventional, but love one another for who they are, even when who they are isn’t pretty. They try to work with one another’s issues and find ways for the full family to meet problems. The Senator’s family appears perfect from the outside, but are all lost and struggling. They do not seem to know anything going on in one another’s lives. The film shows that bonds are forged by love and acceptance, not meeting the status quo.


I love almost anything Nathan Lane and Robin do, so I adored them. Their performances were great and their chemistry together (particularly as a couple who do not seem overly happy) was fantastic. I liked Gene Hackman’s character. He fit the role well.

The sets were fantastic. Not something I normally spend a lot of time thinking about, but in this situation, they really pulled me in.

Some of the jokes were pretty hilarious, making up for the ones that fell completely flat for me.


I would’ve liked a lot more depth. I get that it’s a comedy so character arcs might be light, but most of the characters felt overly one-dimensional to me. They were also HEAVILY stereotyped, which might have worked fine for me if I had seen it when it was new. Watching it for the first time in 2024, everything felt pretty played out.

The part where the big reveal happens and they have to keep repeating it because Senator Keeley keeps saying, “I don’t understand what’s happening.” WTF was that about?


When Armand says, "I thought I was gonna have a heart attack. I mean, I walk in the door and there's a woman in my bed!"

Albert’s performance at the club.

Albert’s overly dramatic fit at the start of the movie. 


Overall, it was fine. Not a favorite, not one I disliked. I think my admiration of this film would have GREATLY improved if I’d seen it sooner in life.


Calista Flockhart was 31 at the time of filming but her character is “Not yet 18.” Meanwhile, her boyfriend is 20. They’ve been sleeping together for a year. I don’t like the math.