In & Out Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997


To Howard Brackett from Greenleaf, Indiana... and he's gay.

"In & Out" stars Kevin Kline as Howard Brackett, a high school English teacher who is inadvertently 'outed' in an Oscar-acceptance speech given by one of his former students, Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon). The only problem is that Howard isn't gay... or is he? That's the question weighing heavily on everybody's mind, from his fiancee Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack) to his mom and dad (Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley) to the principal of the school (the always low-key Bob Newhart) and to the news media that have descended like a pack of wolves on the small town. To further complicate matters, Howard is scheduled to be married in a few days, the culmination of his mother's life-long hopes for a 'big beautiful wedding', and validation for Emily's mad dieting and her much-needed self-esteem.

The parents are wondering if you are ho-ho-ho-ho...
Their homeroom teacher?
Ho-ho-ho-homosexual.
No.
Would you show me your walk?

And so begins Howard's journey to define his own sexuality, with obstacles such as a disapproving P.T.A., his confused students, and television reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), who has a very intense interest in Howard's story. Along the way, Howard receives advice from everyone on how to be less prissy, including, of all people, a priest, and a self-help masculinity tape that is the most memorable comedic sequence in the whole movie.

Say 'yo!'.
YO!
Say 'hot damn!'.
HOT DAMN!
Say 'what a lovely window dressing'.
What a lovely window...
That was a trick.
Doh!

"In & Out" is the second feature written by screenwriter Paul Rudnick, whose first offering, "Jeffrey", another gay romantic comedy which starred Steven Weber (of "Wings") and Patrick Stewart (of "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), didn't do as well as hoped. However, this time around, boasting a stellar cast and great laughs that poke fun of gay stereotypes, Rudnick has got the formula right for mainstream appeal. And under the great direction of Frank Oz (who previously directed "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"), the material is handled well, satirizing Hollywood, the news media, and the simple lives of the Fifties-throwback small-town folk of Greenleaf (the Oscar awards ceremony, with cameos by Glenn Close and Whoopi Goldberg, and showing clips of the godawful movie that Drake starred in, is a hoot). Originally, Steve Martin, who's always great at playing the confused protagonist, was slated to play Howard, which is a shame, since I have always been a fan of that 'wild and crazy guy' and he would have been perfect for the part. But Kline does carry the movie with his penchant for comedy, demonstrated so well in "A Fish Called Wanda" and "Dave".

I'm going to contact an attorney and I may sue.
Get Johnny Cochrane... not that woman.

This is a movie that is full of great infectious humor, sprinkled with surprises, and doesn't cheat the audience in the resolution. You'll be leaving the theater with a smile on your face... definitely worth the price of admission.

A teacher in trouble. A town under siege. A journey into the Heartland. Stay tuned...

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