In and Out (1997)
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Paul Rudnick
My Rating: 3.5/5
I have always been baffled by homophobia. It's heart-wrenching and infuriating, but there is a humorous side, too. First there's the somewhat taboo nature of the subject, despite the fact that it's been a big part of human experience since the earliest times. What's that about? We made a point of talking openly with our kids, since they could talk, about the fact that some people are homosexual or bisexual. Like any discussions of relationships and intimacy, it has occasionally lent itself to awkward questions, but we wanted them to grow up knowing it's part of life and no big deal.
Then there are the amusing stereotypes. Word on the street is that gay men are clean and tidy, well-groomed, cultured, sensitive, and have terrific fashion sense. From the sound of it, straight guys aren't fit for anything except living in caves. Why do we bother to date or marry them?
In and Out is a lighthearted comedy, with a great cast including Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack. It uses this collection of taboos and stereotypes as its medium, playing them to the hilt.
Howard Brackett (Kline), a dedicated high school English teacher, has been engaged to Emily (Cusack) for three years. Howard and Emily have a friendly but chaste and noticeably unpassionate relationship. In the final days before the wedding, the residents of their small town gather to watch the Oscars. Their native son Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) has been nominated as best actor in a film about a gay soldier. During his acceptance speech Cameron thanks Howard, his former English teacher, and outs him as a homosexual.
After this bombshell hits the town, Howard struggles to put his life back in order. He has to marry Emily and give his mother the wedding of her dreams. Of course everyone knows he's not gay -- right? Well, maybe. After all, the dude digs poetry. He's well educated and clean. He tucks his shirt in, for God's sake. Most damning of all, he loves Barbra Streisand movies.
Considering the subject matter, I might have expected this comedy to be a bit edgier. It's a movie that doesn't step outside most people's comfort zones. In and Out felt like a conventional comedy from beginning to end, and I suspect that it will be forgettable for me. However I found it enjoyable and good-hearted, with a number of laugh out loud moments, and I appreciated the reliable comedic talents of Kline and Cusack. As a light comedy that pokes fun at stereotypes, I definitely recommend it.
Memorable Lines --
Emily: "This is an emergency! I need a heterosexual male -- CODE RED!" -- Hands-down, my favorite line in the movie.
Howard: "... but this is my goddamn bachelor party ... and I am not going to goddamn watch ...pardon my split infinitive ... FUNNY GIRL!" I just can't resist English teacher humor.