A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Birdcage is a fun, comedic romp in an adult setting: a South Beach nightclub with a drag show. There's some strong language: "F--k" and variations are used about a dozen times; other profanity is infrequent and includes "a--hole" and "s--t." Characters are frequently seen drinking, usually with a meal or in celebration, but sometimes characters comedically guzzle from a bottle. Two characters are occasionally depicted smoking. A lot of extras in the background are scantily clad, and some phallic home-decor items are seen. Some viewers upset by Robin Williams' death may feel a chill when his character says almost in passing that he's going to kill himself.
What's the story?
Armand (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane) run a South Beach drag show and nightclub. Their son Val, who's away at college, returns home and announces he's getting married. Unfortunately, Val's fiancée Barbara is the daughter of an ultra-conservative senator, played by Gene Hackman, in the midst of a scandal and a reelection campaign. To help Val win the senator's approval, Armand and Albert reluctantly agree to present themselves as straight when they meet Barbara and her family. But to succeed, they'll have to pull off the greatest performances of their lives.
Is it any good?
THE BIRDCAGE is a fun, comedic romp with a great ensemble cast. Robin Williams gives an understated performance as straight man to Nathan Lane, who chews the scenery with gusto. Even South Beach itself becomes a delightful character under Mike Nichols' direction, and with such a talented cast and strong material he mostly just stays out of the way. Younger teens might be drawn to the colorful, campy atmosphere, but the movie's heart is in the more adult situations. Older teens will more easily relate to the characters as they struggle with how to present themselves to the world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the world of the Birdcage, a drag-show nightclub, is shown in the movie. Do you think society's attitudes toward homosexuality and drag culture have changed since the movie was made in 1996? Did you notice any stereotyping, or do you think the characters were realistic?
If you fell in love with someone whose parents were gay, would you try to hide that from your own parents? Why do you think Val wants to hide the truth from Barbara's parents?
What other Robin Williams movies have you seen? How do you think this one compares? Which is your favorite?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love to laugh
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.