The Birdcage (1996)
Theatrical Trailer-1.78:1 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
Main Menu Animation
|Year Of Production||1996|
|Running Time||104:06 (Case: 119)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (54:53)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Mike Nichols|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
For starters, we have a gay couple comprised of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Robin Williams (Armand) has a unique gift, for he can be both outlandish with his talent, or he can be subtle and understated. It is the latter quality which he brings to The Birdcage, with only small offerings of his more traditional high-energy humour, and he has a charm which endears him in every movie he appears in. Put him alongside the limp-wristed extrovert Albert (Nathan Lane), who screams when he damages toast, and you have a recipe for some outrageous comedy which director Mike Nichols stirs with an expert wooden spoon.
In a nutshell, this unlikely couple must pretend to be man and woman to receive the parents of Armand's son's fiancé as guests for a first encounter. For, in a previous state of mind Armand did produce a son with a woman. The real twist is that the father of his son's fiancé is no less than Senator Kevin Keeley, played wonderfully by Gene Hackman. Not only must the fact that Armand is gay be hidden, but his partner Albert transforms into a woman in a way which the Senator finds appealing. A wig and and a dress is all that is needed for Albert, who given his nature is overly feminine anyway. The Senator mistakes this ludicrous man as being a stout, moral (if homely) looking woman and takes a liking to her. Mingle in an absolutely fall-over funny performance from Hank Azaria (who steals any scene he is in) and the stage is set for a very entertaining two hours or so.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
Whilst not especially sharp or detailed, the image does have a wonderful film-like quality. It is my experience that super-sharp, highly detailed images can and usually do suffer complications in the form of artefacts; I will always prefer a smooth, softer image like the one offered here. There is no low level noise whatsoever in the image, giving it a very clean look. Shadow detail was good though not exceptional.
Now a movie like this demands strong colours, and that is exactly what it gets. Full tones, with no oversaturation make for a stunning presentation. The purposefully outrageous look of the movie benefits greatly from the clear, noise-free rendering of strong primaries. Skin tones are handled exceptionally well, which would delight the hilarious Hank Azaria as he spends most of the movie near-naked.
There were no significant MPEG artefacts to speak of, nor were there any film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts were also notably absent for the most part.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 54:53 minutes, during Chapter 14. Whilst it is not particularly distracting in itself, it does result in a type of MPEG artefact known as the "Gibb Effect" where for 6 seconds after the layer change the corner of a wall shimmers with compression problems, and this makes the change stand out.
Dialogue was for the most part clear, with the occasional distortion whenever Nathan Lane shrieked louder than usual. Whether this is the disc, or the internal Dolby Digital decoder on my Panasonic player I am not certain because this centre channel problem has cropped up in a few of my other discs but has not been reported by other reviewers. Hmm.
Lip syncing was not a problem during the movie.
The music is as outlandish as the visuals, and is perfect. It is predominantly a collection of very energetic rhythmic dance tracks and I often found my foot tapping to the beat whilst watching the movie. The sound is full and very clean, with heaps of energy coming from the strong bass.
The surround channels were used well for the music, which often filled the entire room, and for ambience. Not aggressive, just tasteful.
Have no fear that the .1 channel is missing. This soundtrack makes excellent use of low bass as and when the need arises. As the subwoofer runs directly from my main speakers, the absence or presence of this channel is totally irrelevant to me; others with dedicated amplification sourcing the subwoofer may have different experiences.
The Italian 5.1 mix sounded no different from all the 5.0 mixes, so it must be concluded that either the .1 channel is silent on the Italian mix, or included in the 5 channels on the other mixes.
Theatrical Trailer (2:11)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this trailer is 16x9 enhanced and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 . It is very good, and one of the better looking and sounding trailers I have seen in a while. It is also very funny, and gives a good sense of the movie's intentions.
Of limited appeal, but nonetheless a good read. These notes, in my opinion, should be on the disc.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video is very good.
The audio is very good.
A great trailer does not make great extras...
|DVD||Panasonic A-350A, using S-Video output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 16:9 RPTV. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ|
|Speakers||Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive|