What could have been another mixture of an exaggerated dysfunctional family sketch, instead ends up being real.
Nichols dramatizes the joke with utmost sincerity. Something that we lack in this day and generation. It is always advised to completely dive and commit yourself to the absurdity of the comical world that you represent. One of the finest examples is Will Ferrell in Jon Favreau’s Elf. The silliness is the usual, call it a baggage or an armor, thing that you carry in your body language but the sheer childish madness that Ferrell has conjured is what makes the film and the character so iconic. And it is not that the director Mike Nichols doesn’t have someone as enthusiastically committing as Ferrell, if anything, he has the king of all, he has Robin Williams in his film.
Yet, only for once does Williams get to showcase his comic skills which too is a part of act that he channels to mock Albert his hyper emotional partner played mesmerizingly by Nathan Lane. And the film stays reserved till the credits starts rolling, it is one of its best assets. Hence, this dramatic version of a comical situation is what keeps you awake in a what could be a riot of laughter; which by the way there aren’t any. Not to say it isn’t funny, the jokes are smart, the one liners follows a slapstick humor which then is followed by a plenty of medicinal talk.
Aforementioned, Nathan Lane comes off as a rise and shine hero in this pragmatic world since he is on your face the whole time. In a good way. His character has to be and is over-the-top. An actor wouldn’t miss a chance to let go off such a golden opportunity and you can see Lane holding tight to it dearly. The Birdcage is defined to me in that montage sequence of Williams preparing Lane for a ruffian John Wayne role, but that definition is only completed when Lane, after the training, walks out in front of us, sits and looks right at us, an actor.