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La Cage Aux Folles

review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: MGM

Running Time: 97 minutes

Starring Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault

Directed by Edouard Molinaro

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, French Mono, English Mono, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (16 Chapters)

Truly one of the most popular foreign films of all time, "La Cage Aux Folles" is a comedy classic all the way from France. While many people are familiar with it and it highly regarded, mainstream audiences are probably most familiar with the 1996 English language remake, that being "The Birdcage" with Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman. The movies do have their similarties and differences, but instead of discussing them, I'll talk about the original that even spawned two other sequels.

The film follows Albin and Renato, two homosexual lovers who live in St. Tropez. However, things get a little crazy when Renato's son, Laurent comes home to announce he is getting married. While Renato is a bit shaky on all of it, things get really crazy when the two families get together for dinner. They try to make things seem all normal and to coverup their lifestyle, all while hiding their transvestite club. Of course, this is all a set-up for some classic, insane and hilarious screwball comedy anyone can enjoy.

There's a lot to like about this movie and it's no wonder why it's so popular. The performers are great, especially Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault. They have great chemistry and are really wonderful. The supporting cast that plays off of them are great too. This is quite an ensemble.

The screenplay, credited to many writers (including Francis Veber) and based off the play by Jean Poiret (who co-wrote the script), is hilarious. There's a good sense of the story and a lot of hilarious lines and moments to be found throughout it. There's so much to take in and you'll laugh a lot... there is just to much zaniness throughout the movie and this script is really well written with larger-then-life characters and good dialogue.

The movie was directed by Edouard Molinaro, who also co-wrote the screenplay and was even awarded an Oscar® nod for directing the film. He does an outstanding job here with interesting choices with the sets, designs and the pace. The pace is really even and tight, it's a rare kind of comedy that hits its mark nearly every single of time. Molinaro knows the story well and how to play it out, he's the reason why it's so enjoyable. He takes everything, puts it on the edge and runs with it. He creates a funny atmosphere that is likeable where it could make people uneasy. He makes all the right choices and really makes this quite a farce. The editing in this movie is also really good as you can really take it all in and get a feel for things.

Overall, if you've seen "The Birdcage" you owe yourself to see this. While I liked "The Birdcage" a lot, the original, that being this, is better in a few key areas. This is a great comedy you can just pop in, watch and enjoy. Humor lovers and world cinema fans, this is one movie you should not miss.

"La Cage Aux Folles" is presented in 1.66:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Forget about that it's not anamorphic, this transfer is terrible. Blemishes and dirt pop up all over throughout the movie, while the overall image is soft and faded. All of it gets annoying fast. Colors are a bit mute and undersaturated while there is some shimmering to be found. There is a good portion of grain too as well as fuzziness and quite a few scratches. Overall black levels and detail are average, but hues and fleshtones are pretty bad. This is a movie that deserves a restoration, but it obviously isn't getting one. It's really a shame, and a really big disappointment.

The movie has an English dub mono track and the original French mono track. The French mono track sounds pretty faded, while the English dub is in better condition. I found sounds in the background that overpowered dialogue in the French track. It also sounds a tiny bit distorted. The Enlish dub is a bit louder and more clear, but it's still nothing great. As far as the actual dub goes, it's actually quite good. Lips match the mouths often and it does stay pretty true to the original script. The voices are not corny or stupid either which is a plus. So, the audio is also disappointing. This could be good 5.1 in some areas, but I bet if there was a remix it'd still sound largely mono. Oh well. English, French and Spanish subtitles are also included with this release. There are also English closed captions.

The short, pointless Theatrical Trailer is included. Some production notes or info comparing it to "The Birdcage" would have been cool, or even a documentary on the impact the movie had.

A hilarious and wonderful foreign film, "La Cage Aux Folles" is not to be missed. Too bad this DVD is really lackluster, but the price is pretty cheap.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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