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On The Screen

HHHH:Excellent

HHH:Good

HH:Average

H:Poor

HHH1/2 The Birdcage

The American version of the French farce La Cage aux Folles succeeds on many levels, thanks in part to the ebullient performances of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Armand (Williams) is the owner and musical director of a nightclub in Miami's South Beach section, while his lover Albert (Lane) is the diva-in-drag who's the star performer at the club. The trouble starts when Armand's son (Dan Futterman) starts courting the daughter of a conservative U.S. Senator (Gene Hack-man) whose election platform is steeped in "moral order" and "family values." By the time the film reaches its climactic, comic showdown between the two families, the message of "family" and the characters' foibles are so skillfully exploited that one overlooks the expected degrees of slapstick, even when resorting to gay stereotypes. Director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Elaine May have struck the appropriate comic and social chords for this film to be a witty, beguiling, and relevant film. -Scott C. Deskin. Tomorrow at LSC.

HHHH Trainspotting

Trainspotting tells the story of a group of Scottish heroin users. Already released in England, it has become the third-largest grossing British-made film and has received a large amount of criticism for not condemning heroin use. The story is told from the view of heroin users, without judgement, which makes the story feel completely genuine and totally fascinating. -David V. Rodriguez. Sony Nickelodeon.

HH The Truth About Cats and Dogs

This screwball comedy brims over with appeal and execution. Although this works for the actors, they're often drowning in the sappy plot constructs and the ridiculously "cute" situations. Comedienne Janeane Garofalo plays Abby, a successful pet doctor who has a talk-radio show. In one scene, her no-nonsense advice wins over British photographer Brian (Ben Chaplin), whose accent is to die for. Things get complicated, though, when the photographer mistakes Abby for her ditzy (but tall and blonde) next-door neighbor Noelle (Uma Thurman). Aside from a "touching" phone conversation between Abby and Brian, there's not much new in this retread of the old Cyrano de Bergerac premise; meanwhile, director Michael Lehmann (Heathers) seems to have succumbed to the same Holly-wood system he subverted in his wickedly funny debut.-SCD. Tonight at LSC.