Director Mike Nichols teams up with his former partner/screenwriter Elaine May for the first time in many years and for the first time together in films to create this sophisticated, remake of the phenomenally popular French musical farce La Cage aux Folles that stars Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman and Diane Wiest as two dramatically disparate couples who manage to reconcile their vast differences for the sake of their children who are getting married. Williams plays Armand Goldman, the owner of a popular South Beach drag club known for putting on elaborate showcases starring his long-time lover/wife Albert (Lane) who appears as “Starina.” Lately poor flamboyant, flighty Albert has been in crisis over the inexorable onset of middle age. He has been moody, paranoid and unbearably. When he gets too inconsolably distraught, handsome but clumsy houseboy Agador quietly slips Albert “Pirin” tablets (which he explains to Armand are simply Aspirin tablets with the “as” scraped off). Still though Albert can be a royal pain, Armand dearly loves him and the two live happily in their splendiferous apartment above the club. One day Armand’s son Val (the result of Armand’s single foray into straight sex) comes visiting with joyous news: he has found his dreamgirl and is getting married. The only trouble is, Barbara Keeley’s father is the blustery ultra-religious right-wing Senator Keeley (Hackman), the founder of the Coalition for Moral Order. Senator Keeley and his colleagues are not as upright as they seem and when his closest associate is found dead beside a black, underage prostitute, Keeley finds his house surrounded by ravenous newshounds, hungry for dirt. Knowing that they are poised to ruin him, Keeley and his proper but slightly addled-wife (Wiest) decide that a big, elaborate, church wedding will be just the ticket to save his reputation. Barbara has neglected to tell them that Val’s parents are gay, preferring to claim that they are members of the South Beach social elite. In a panic, she panics and calls Val who breaks the bad news to Armand and begs him to make the apartment less flamboyant and worst of all to hide Albert (who functioned as Val’s mother while the youth grew up) during the visit. Armand is angry, but loving his son, finally, reluctantly agrees, knowing that he will deeply wound his companion. Unfortunately, Albert finds out and as a compromise tries to learn how to be macho so he can pretend to be Val’s uncle, he is too much the Great Dame to ever pass as one of the guys and so is banned from the party. Armand then locates Catherine and asks her to masquerade as his wife. She agrees to show up later that evening. Meanwhile their friends busily redecorate the apartment until it looks as if it were done in “Early Inquisition.” During the fateful dinner party, Catherine is late and Albert gets uproarious revenge. Achingly comic chaos ensues as Armand tries to hold the increasingly tenuous evening together while outside the newshounds bay and threaten to make even more trouble for Senator Keely.
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