The son of a gay Miami-nightclub owner is engaged to a right wing politician's daughter. The two families must meet, and a dinner becomes a spectacle as Armand (Williams) must hide his transvestitism and OTT partner.
As Hollywood continues its fascination with translating foreign classics and dressing blokes in an ever-wider selection of feminine attire, it seemed inevitable that along would come a film which combined the two. And indeed, 1978’s Gallic institution La Cage Aux Folles was that very candidate. The original was a farce of pant-wetting proportions that spawned two sequels and a musical. The remake offers glitz, glamour and Robin Williams. The results, while overly sincere, are for the most part satisfying.
Williams, all gaudy suits and preposterous facewear, is nightclub owner Armand Goldman who lives in Miami Beach in a flat full of artefacts that would make a porn star blush, with over-emotional drag queen beau Albert, convinced his other half is up to no good. Then Armand’s son announces his upcoming marriage to the daughter of a senator embroiled in a political scandal, and the impending in-laws head cross-country to meet their new family. All the stops are pulled out to convince the right-wingers that normality and heterosexuality reign chez Goldman. It doesn’t work. The build-up gradually piles on layers of comedy before giving way to all-out farce in the final reel, but all too often allowing political correctness to impede on the good humour. What is refreshing, though, is to see Williams’ mugging taking a back seat, allowing him to play, appropriately enough, straight man to Lane’s frequently hysterical histrionics. Meanwhile Hank Azaria provides frenzied hilarity as the couple’s neurotic housemaid and Hackman shows unexpected comic dexterity. Reservations aside, this has a winning charm which stands it head and shoulders above its more patronising cross-dressing companions.
If it weren't so darned "sincere" this would be an unmitigated bird-brained delight, but it undoubtedly remains a genial crowd pleaser. If the dress fits, wear it.