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Overall Rating
3.57

Awesome: 17.86%
Worth A Look48.21%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 12.5%
Total Crap: 7.14%

4 reviews, 32 user ratings


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In & Out
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by Rob Gonsalves

"What happened to the Paul Rudnick who wrote gems like this?"
5 stars

When Tom Hanks accepted his Oscar for 'Philadelphia' and thanked his gay high-school drama teacher, he surely had no idea he was planting the seed for one of 1997's best comedies.

Hanks' heartfelt homage to his mentor -- who was already "out" and retired -- is recreated, and given a fiendish twist, at the beginning of In & Out. Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline), a beloved high-school teacher in a sleepy Indiana town, is watching the Oscars along with a billion other people. His former student, the hot young movie star Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon), wins Best Actor and singles out Howard in his acceptance speech -- and also outs him. Howard's fiancée (Joan Cusack), students, and parents are shocked -- they had no idea Howard was gay. Then again, neither did Howard.

In & Out, sharply written by comic genius Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey, the Addams Family movies), is a gentle and knowing comedy about stereotypes that also reclaims and embraces stereotypes. A man who adores Barbra Streisand and moves with grace! Oh, the horror! The movie suggests that it isn't gay people that scare many homophobes -- it's gay style. If, for example, Howard were an openly gay lumberjack who loved football and the Three Stooges, his fellow Hoosiers might shrug. He'd be gay, but at least he'd be manly.

But no, Howard is one of those is-he-or-isn't-he guys. He teaches poetry. He gets into arguments over whether Yentl was a disappointment. He talks with his hands (and his wrists) and can't help surrendering to a disco beat. Yet he vehemently denies that he's gay -- after all, he's due to be married in a week! (Yes, married to a woman who's going nuts from three platonic years with Howard.) So, is he or isn't he? Put it this way: The movie would have little point if it were a feature-length retread of the famous Seinfeld outing episode (not that there's anything wrong with that -- except that it's been done).

Howard is hounded by the media, including openly gay reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck in a suave turn). Everyone wants to know: is he or isn't he? (Presumably, the town will rest easier once they know one way or the other.) If Howard is gay, he hasn't even come out to himself; if not, he's a feminine celibate whom everyone thinks is gay anyway. He can't win. Kevin Kline, a great comedian, nails Howard's confusion, despair, and embarrassment -- but never shame. Howard learns to accept his identity -- whatever that may be.

Paul Rudnick has written scenes that will go down as classics. The "Exploring Your Masculinity" session is a riot, and the clips from Cameron's oh-so-PC gay-soldier epic To Serve and Protect are viciously funny. Frank Oz, a solid actor's director who knows how to stay out of the way of a great script, keeps things moving up to the triumphant finale, which spoofs Spartacus as well as Dead Poets Society. And there's superb support from Bob Newhart as Howard's stammering principal, Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley as his parents, and especially the formidable Joan Cusack as Howard's fiancée, who's so bewildered she's borderline psychotic.

'In & Out' is somewhat safe and hetero-friendly in the Hollywood tradition of 'The Birdcage' -- though it does dare to show two men in a prolonged smooch -- but it's still the freshest, wittiest comedy in a long time.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=417&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/26/07 06:53:35
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User Comments

12/29/11 Victoria-nola Philadelphia Story meets Philadelphia. Gay in-jokes and film references. 5 stars
12/20/08 PAUL SHORTT SHODDY, CONTRIVED AND MORALLY IRRESPONSIBLE 1 stars
7/27/08 The Dork Knight Irritating. 2 stars
3/05/07 William Goss Kline is better than thoroughly safe romp about his sexuality. Props to Selleck. 3 stars
1/26/07 Bitchflaps Cute film, though nothing special. 3 stars
9/13/05 R.W. Welch Played a shade overbroad but has some good comic bits. 3 stars
8/15/05 love funny, pro gay movie. I like it vey much! 4 stars
12/12/04 Jim What a wonderful window treatment! 4 stars
7/16/04 DM Surprisingly funny, aside from overly sappy ending 4 stars
10/10/03 JimmyC Terrible Movie 1 stars
3/21/03 Jack Sommersby Nothing great, but it gets the job done. Selleck is the standout. 3 stars
11/23/02 Charles Tatum Funny until "Spartacus" inspired finale 4 stars
9/09/02 Movie guy A GREAT FILM I LOVED MATT DAMON IN THIS FILM 5 stars
1/23/02 Doug Very funny. The dance scene is the best. 5 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent Not even funny 2 stars
11/23/01 Andrew Carden Good Performances By Cusack and Newhart, but Horrible For Kline. 3 stars
9/18/01 Butterbean Kline whines nonstop. Cusack and Dillion are the ones to watch for. 3 stars
8/08/01 KC Au What did you expect from a movie based on some real-life acceptance speech?!? 2 stars
4/15/00 Elvisfan Best part was hearing 'YMCA' over closing credits & Cusack great as always 4 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski If you have gay friends, watch this with them. It makes almost brutal sense. 4 stars
2/19/99 Melissa Only Cusack is worth your time. BLAH 2 stars
2/19/99 Piz Boring comedy that makes you smile, but no laughs, Matt Dillon was funniest, c'mon 2 stars
2/09/99 Gary I kept waiting for the movie to get good, and it never did. Not entertaining at all. 1 stars
1/28/99 donkey_dew This shit sucks. SUCKS. 1 stars
1/03/99 Dasha Very funny and smart. Kevin Kline is great. 5 stars
11/24/98 Mr.Pink Beginnig is very funny, but it soon becomes less amusing and ending sucked 2 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob I'm straight, but I felt somewhat offended on a gay behest. What happened? 2 stars
9/28/98 Heather Lots of laughs and sterotypical characters! No, really, I liked it! 4 stars
9/06/98 Admiral Mung Bean Soda (+/- 12db) The ending left me confused about the movie's sexuality. 3 stars
8/25/98 Pete I liked it. Joan Cusack and Kline were both amazing. Rest of cast was good. 4 stars
8/25/98 Mister Whoopee Didn't hate it. Good cast. 4 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet Kline and Selleck? Perfect casting. The story is kinda lame, but it has it's moments. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Sep-1997 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Frank Oz

Written by
  Paul Rudnick

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



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