The Birdcage - * * *

It may take a while to get going, but once it does, The Birdcage is a farce to be reckoned with. Robin Williams plays Armand, the gay owner of a South Beach drag club who lives with its effeminate star, Albert (Nathan Lane). When Armand’s son Val (Dan Futterman) announces his intentions to marry the daughter of one of America’s most conservative senators (Gene Hackman), he and Armand immediately wonder what to do with Albert when the in-laws visit in two days. The movie’s first hour drags (no pun intended), as it is mostly setup for the film’s set piece, the dinner with the in-laws. There are occasional laughs, mostly due to the characterizations and antics of Williams and Lane, but many scenes could have been trimmed a little. However, once the dinner commences, the entire film clicks together. The interchanges and conversation are hilarious, and the comedy continues to build until the movie’s implausible but humorous end.

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