We have a large collection of films today that are solely dedicated to highlighting the issues surrounding LGBT rights. But while we have powerful dramas like Milk, Prayers for Bobby, Brokeback Mountain and Boys Don’t Cry that leave us teary-eyed, the funnier films about the LGBT population somehow don’t get the love and attention they deserve. And I don’t mean dumb parodies like Another Gay Movie and the Eating Out series, but the ones that are not only funny but also thought-provoking.
It’s imperative that along the way, we do not forget what it feels like to laugh at our own quirks. So here are 5 films that remind us why we need to take our sexualities with a pinch of salt and learn to laugh for a change.
5. Cachorro (Bear Cub) (2004)
Pedro, a gay bear, is tasked with taking care of his sister’s young son, Bernardo. Pedro, like most single gay men, is a party animal and is oblivious to what it is like to take care of a child. Imagine Baloo left alone with Mowgli in a large city filled with men who Baloo can’t help himself but stop and admire. This gem of a movie finds humour in the convoluted camaraderie between an uncle and his nephew, which only becomes entertaining because neither of them know what the other’s life is all about. And for bear lovers, there are plenty of burly men giving the viewers an insight into the world of bears. So, win win!
4. Pride (2014)
Based on a true story, Pride showcases how the LGBT population can sometimes find allies in the unlikeliest of people. To tackle Margaret Thatcher’s crackdown on coal miners in Wales, a London-based LGBT group starts rallying to their support, battling prejudice and self-doubt along the way. What makes this film a rare delight is its enchanting cast of British acting royalty and a funny, well-rounded script. Imelda Staunton (otherwise known for portraying the cruel Dolores Umbridge with perfection) is a sight to behold.
3. Mambo Italiano (2013)
Angelo belongs to a conservative Italian family and cannot tell his parents that he is gay. However, he falls in love with Nino and the two decide to move in, all the while keeping it a secret from his parents about the true nature of their relationship. The ensuing confusion is what this film is primarily about, along with issues gay men face when dealing with their personal and family lives. Mambo Italiano has some genuinely hilarious situations that are highlighted though powerful acting by stalwarts like Paul Sovrino (daddy bear alert!) and Ginette Reno (oh that voice!). It is not that famous but makes for a fun watch.
2. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
If someone told me that Hugo Weaving, the man who played the villainous Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy, and Guy Pearce, the suave star of LA Confidential, once played drag queens, I would tell them to piss right off. And then I came across this delightful film and boy, am I glad. For all those who’ve watched The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this film is a rare cinematic genius with top-notch acting on display. The three main leads imbibe the spirit of drag and set out on a sprawling adventure in a rundown bus across Australia, all the while trying to adjust with each other and the gruelling journey. This movie is number 2 on this list for a reason.
1. The Birdcage (1996)
This timeless classic making to the top spot on this list is no surprise. Movie buffs know this film inside out, but there are so many who are ignorant enough to live their lives completely unaware of this masterpiece. Armand (played impeccably by the late Robin Williams) and Albert (a career-defining role by Nathan Lane) are nothing like your ordinary gay couple. While the former is a sleazy nightclub owner in Miami, the latter is one of his star drag performers. Confusion ensues when their son Val decides to marry a senator’s daughter and invites her straight-laced family over. Only problem is, they do not know that Val has gay parents.
Why I adore The Birdcage more than any other film on this list is because it portrays the polar opposites in a gay man’s life and does not overdo it. The jokes hit you like a sledgehammer and even Hank Azaria’s over-the-top portrayal of the manservant Agador is thoroughly endearing. It’s a rare film that highlights the best aspects of a drag queen’s life and also showcases what it is like to be a queer parent. If you haven’t watched The Birdcage yet, then what exactly are you doing with your life?
So that’s a round-up of the five LGBT-themed films I find thoroughly enjoyable. Are there other films that could make it to this list, comment away and let us know!
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