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La Cage aux Folles

Remember the Robin Williams/Nathan Lane vehicle, The Birdcage? Not to decry the prodigious talents of Williams or Lane, but La Cage aux Folles, the 1979 film on which it was based (and which was itself adapted from a play) is much, much funnier. Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault are the happily settled couple, running a gay nightclub and living in domestic bliss. When Tognazzi's straight son (conceived in a temporary moment of adventure because, as Tognazzi explains, "you should try everything once") announces that he's engaged and plans to bring his fiancée's conservative parents home for a visit, the wacky antics begin: fey knick-knacks get shoved into closets, the apartment's decor is butched up, and Serrault — a professional female impersonator — dolls up as the "mother." In an era where gay characters are becoming more commonplace on network television, and cable shows like Queer as Folk show simulated, man-on-man anal penetration, this Love, American Style situation comedy set-up is a bit dusty. But Tognazzi and Serrault are very funny actors — Tognazzi brings a believability to his role that Williams' cartoon mincing never approached, and the scene where Tognazzi teaches Serrault how to act macho is hilarious, and far better realized than in the American version. As a classic French bedroom farce with a twist, this was deservedly the first gay-themed arthouse hit, spawning two sequels and inspiring a Broadway play. MGM Home Video offers the DVD under its "World Films" banner in the original widescreen (1.66:1) aspect ratio. The transfer is adequate, if less than sparkling, and the Dolby 2.0 mono audio — in French, English or Spanish — is clear. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish, and the theatrical trailer are included. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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