LA CAGE AUX FOLLIES II (R) -- In French with English subtitles at the K-B Jamus and Outer Circle.
Man loves man. Man loses man. Man gets man.
Even with the campy twist -- in French yet, with subtitles -- that's still a B movie. So "La Cage aux Folles II," which starts Friday at the Janus I and Outer Circle, could have played just as well as "Blondie Goes Gay."
In case you missed the original "La Cage aux Folles," director Edouard Molinaro's look at the lighter side of drag queens, the sequel delivers the same punch lines to the same jokes, though this time there's a dash of international intrigue to keep things moving.
Italian star Ugo Tognazzi returns as Dagwood to Frenchman Michel Serrault's Blondie -- actually the characters are Renato Baldi, French Riviera nightclub owner, and Albin Mougeotte, Baldi's transvestite headliner/lover -- and all the yuks arise from the predicament of aging homosexuals in a hetrosexual society.
Serrault, in billowing pantsuits when he's not sporting sequined gowns, shrieks and minces through the movie with expertise: after all, he's played the part of Albin, on both stage and screen, for something like 10 years (and people talk about Yul Brenner!). Tognazzi, meanwhile, brings to the role of Renato a respectable and subdued counterpoint, what with pained looks and wry smiles, to his lover's preening antics.
"Getting older is not a catastrophe," Renato counsels at one point. "That's just life."
"I'm not ridiculous," Albin insists with a moony gaze as he pops a tranquilizer. "I can still arouse desire."
So it goes (or, as the movie's hype has it, "the relationship continues"), except that this time, Albin and Renato stumble into the clutches of a sinister spy ring. There are a couple of uninspired chase scenes through the streets of Nice, a few murders by cyanide dart gun, the spectacle of he-man secret agents dressing up like women, and the movie ends -- in a shoot-out, of course.
Moved by the huge commercial success of the first "La Cage aux Folles," Italian producer Marcello Danon and United Artists couldn't resist giving us a sequel. So depending on how things go, we may yet be favored with III, IV, V and VI -- the last of which being the hilarious yet warmly touching tale of homosexual octagenarians.