A cultural divide can sometimes be a canyon.When The Birdcage was released it went over big in the USA. The rest of the world, thinking it must be something special, awaited it's release eagerly.
Well how we all laughed at the USA when we finally saw it. This film was unfunny as hell. Anyone who had seen Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert would look at The Birdcage as a sad attempt at the same genre.
So why did the USA viewing public love this film? Men in dresses. It's that simple.
In the US, sexuality is evil. You can show people being gunned down in cold blood, but if a woman takes her top off all of a sudden the editor's scissors are busted out. You can stick a knife in someone's ribs but if you say the word "fuck", you're out of a job.
So when the sexually-protected American public are suddenly exposed to (GASP!) gay people, well we're just talking a barrel of laughs. Of course those gay people have to be outrageously gay so as to not be completely hated by Joe Public, so the result is something that the rest of the world looks at, tilts it head at, and then walks away from.
The Birdcage, a remake of the French classic Le Cage Aux Folles, has no message, it makes no grandiose statement and if you take away the slapstick, it's just not very funny.
Nathan Lane does a great screaming queen, but this kind of stereotype died with the cancellation of The Benny Hill Show. Robin Williams plays it straight (in an acting sense, not a lifestyle sense) and does well enough as to not shame himself, but Gene Hackman looks like he didn't know what the hell he was doing.In short, this film is about ten years behind modern society.
Maybe five years behind American society, but ten years behind *modern* society.