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The comedy that inspired The Birdcage gets some fabulous Criterion high-def love....
Criterion / 98 Minutes / 1978 / Unrated / Street Date: September 10, 2013
The antics on display in La Cage aux Folles are goofy and, amazingly, quite antiquated. What might have seemed flagrantly outrageous upon the movie’s release in 1978 seems adorably benign through a post-millennial lens, and perhaps that’s the grandest testament the movie can inspire on this scintillating high-def edition. If La Cage aux Folles is funny now, it’s because of its human elements and its avalanche of comedic buildup, not any cultural taboo.
For viewers who haven’t seen either this film or the Hollywood remake The Birdcage, the comedy of errors on display in La Cage aux Folles centers on Renato (Ugo Tonazzi) and Albin (Michel Serrault), an aging gay couple who find themselves in the dubious situation where they’re about to meet their son’s new fiancée (who is, GASP!, a woman) and her straight-edged parents. In attempts to cap the outrageousness of their personalities, the film careens into amplifying inanity.
I’ve always found La Cage aux Folles to be too precious for its own good, but this Criterion Blu-ray edition gave me an opportunity to rethink that a bit. A movie a solid decade or three ahead of its time, Edouard Molinaro’s movie is silly and zany in all the right ways – while this new edition of the movie may not hold much in terms of counter-cultural shock value, it’s nevertheless a cleanly constructed manic fable of the lengths we all go to try to make sense out of love and all it brings.