Review: 'La Cage Aux Folles 2' Has Some Lovely Moments, But Not On Par With 'La Cage'

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday November 23, 2021

"La Cage aux Folles," released in France in 1978 and the U.S. in 1979, was this crazy hit comedy that picked up three surprise Oscar nominations, including Best Director (Édouard Molinaro) and Adapted Screenplay. That film, which itself was based on a 1973 French play by Jean Poiret, was then adapted into a Tony-winning musical in 1984 and a Mike Nichols film in 1996 ("The Birdcage"). The original film was a surprise worldwide smash.

With the sequel craze of the '70s in full swing ("Godfather," "Rocky"), no time was wasted in bringing Europe's two favorite gays, Albin (Michel Serrault) and Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) back for another, even more farcical, romp.

I will admit, when I first saw the first "La Cage," I was not impressed. I was offended by the over-the-top performances and what I saw as ridiculing gay men. Years later I would reevaluate and contextualize the film and enjoy it for what it was, a hilarious and sweet cry for acceptance at a time when those types of movies were still years away. And I was able to enjoy Serrault's diva turn as a madcap, joyous screen creation.

Serrault is even more exaggerated and flamboyant in "La Cage aux Folles II," and yet it's all in keeping with the farcical nature of the work.

The script, by Marcello Canon, Jean Poiret, and Francis Veber, opens as our couple bicker and Albin decides to prove he is still desirable, so he dons drag and scurries off to a local café, where a handsome man on the run picks him up and, wordlessly, takes him to a hotel and is immediately killed — but not before sneaking something into Albin's pocket. Thus begins a lunatic adventure involving secret agents and microfilm and crossdressing and stern Italian women and more corpses. Oh, and poor Albin always being forced to dress and act like a man!

This sequel is not on par with "La Cage," but has some nice moments. Missing are some of the wonderful cast members from the original, including Claire Maurier as Simone and Rémi Laurent as Laurent (who would die of HIV-related illness in 1987). In addition, the script is much sillier. But Serrault is in rare form and there are hilarious moments, especially once we reach Italy and Albin is forced to see just how hard Italian women work. "I don't like being a woman in this country," he complains to Renato.

In addition, all the heterosexual characters are involved in murdering or deceiving each other, while our two gay characters simply love one another — albeit sometimes cattily — so the message of acceptance is even more boldly proclaimed in the end. And for 1980, that was groundbreaking.

The Kino Classic transfer is excellent. Both the original French and dubbed English soundtracks are available. Go with the original French. Tognazzi, as he did in the original, spoke all his lines in Italian and was dubbed, which is jarring. Also odd is the fact that once the duo arrives in Italy, no one speaks Italian.

Sadly, there are no Special Features except for the trailer.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • Original French and English Dub Audio
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English Subtitles


    "La Cage aux Folles II" is available on Blu-ray on November 23, 2021.

    Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute