The First Wives Club (1996)
The three great comic actresses of their time, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn, star as recently dumped middle-aged wives who concoct masterful schemes of revenge against their ex-husbands — with the help of a gay decorator and a lesbian daughter. The huge cast includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Maggie Smith, and Eileen Heckart in fine comic turns.
The Birdcage (1996)
Robin Williams and Nathan Lane brought gay camp and drag into the movie mainstream in director Mike Nichols’s update of the 1978 French classic La Cage aux Folles. As a drag club owner and his longtime drag diva partner, Williams and Lane are both over-the-top and compassionate as they try to pass for straight to please their prospective right-wing in-laws.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks’s masterpiece works so well because it sticks so closely to the films it’s spoofing: Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle lead a stellar comic cast including Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, and the fabulous Madeline Kahn (who appears in more films on this list than anyone else — for good reason).
In & Out (1997)
Kevin Kline is hilarious in this inspired farce about a small-town high school teacher who’s outed as gay by an Oscar-accepting former student on the eve of his wedding. Gay writer Paul Rudnick trots out every gay cliché known to man as Kline struggles to understand if he’s actually gay or not. The all-star cast includes Bob Newhart as a jittery principal, Debbie Reynolds as a wedding-obsessed mom, and Joan Cusack as the beside-herself fiancée.