IN & OUT (1997) 

[Get the Poster]

Kevin Kline
Joan Cusack
Matt Dillon
Tom Selleck
Debbie Reynolds
Wilfred Brimley
Bob Newhart

Frank Oz



Time: 92 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy

Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Cusack).

I know I shouldn't have expected much from this film since it's entire plot was someone's brainstorm from watching Tom Hanks accept his Oscar for PHILADELPHIA. In real life, Hanks thanked his high school teacher and told the whole world that his teacher was gay. Since everyone in that town already knew, it was no real surprise. However, what if they didn't? (This was the brainstorm). It's an interesting idea and cast to perfection, but there just isn't enough of a story here to be great. Kline gives one of his best performances as the teacher in denial, but his sexual awakening is not to be believed. The film handcuffs him from the get go with the ridiculous premise that a man in his 40s would be unaware of his sexual preference. This idea creates a wonderfully funny role for Joan Cusack as his long-suffering fiancée, but it's just utterly untenable. That and the fact, that he couldn't be more stereotypically gay if they tried.

Of course, everyone should have known Mr. Brackett was gay because he's neat, well-dressed, hasn't slept with his fiancee and loves Barbra Streisand. Pardon me, but I really don't think these qualities can be found in every gay man, and I'm sure some of them relate to straight men as well – except for the Barbra Streisand thing. I understand that this is a comedy and they're trying to reach the widest audience, but I don't think the filmmakers give us enough credit. Instead of honestly exploring the situation, it's treated like a two-bit joke, something he can just as easily change back. Would people really be so surprised (except for the fiancee)? I know outing someone in a small town would be big news, but since he didn't know either how can everyone be so upset? Though Kline brings an honest poignancy to the part, he seems to be playing "gay" instead of portraying a regular person with an unexplored side to his personality.

"Is everybody gay? Is this a Twilight Zone?"

The one person who really gets to have some fun with their reputation is the suave Tom Selleck, who plays a reporter hot on the trail of Mr. Brackett. They have some wonderful moments together, especially the scene where Selleck kisses Kline to prove to him he really is gay. I'm sure a kiss by Selleck would turn many a man's head. Selleck portrays an average, successful man who just happens to be gay. He gives a grounded and humorous turn the film really needs. As do Debby Reynolds and Wilfred Brimley as Kline's parents. They are brilliantly funny, trying to accept their son no matter what he is. Kline is a great comic actor and he gives this role heart and depth, something that the character desperately needs. His mannerisms and facial expressions really let you into what there is of a character. It's a shame that the lead role is the least interesting and the most shallow.

With such a great cast and an interesting idea, I wish they could have made something more meaningful out of this story. Get rid of the obvious jokes and homophobic behavior and give the actors a story with real humor, intelligence and humanity, instead of the "Oh my God he's gay" fear and loathing. This is a comedy that could have shed some light on homosexuality in America without being heavy-handed. Instead, it pats itself on the back for bringing the important idea that homosexuals are people too out into the light. Thanks for that news flash. Perhaps if Brackett wasn't a raging stereotype the message would be taken to heart. IN & OUT is light and frothy, but ultimately filled with too much hot air.

home | reviews | actors | actresses | film heaven | all reviews