In And Out


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In And Out
"Queer jokes aimed at Mr and Mrs Normal end up in a puddle with yesterday's tulips. Avoiding the pain loses a lot in translation."

Once "out" meant "not in". Gay bashers will say that Nancy's boys are doing unspeakable things to the language. In an attempt to distort prejudice with a little light comedy, Frank Oz, Paul Rudnick and friends have concocted a piece of fluff that floats above the issue like Barbra Streisand in her What's Up, Doc? mode. It isn't sexy enough to blow a fuse, nor man enough to ruffle the plot. It has the charm of a colour co-ordinated bathrobe.

Rudnick previously wrote Jeffrey, a genuinely funny play/film for gays. He wrote In And Out for everyone else. Queer jokes aimed at Mr and Mrs Normal end up in a puddle with yesterday's tulips. Avoiding the pain loses a lot in translation.

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Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is the popular English and drama teacher at Greenleaf, Indiana. He's about to marry Emily (Joan Cusack), who has been waiting three years for their relationship to take its clothes off, when one of his former pupils (Matt Dillon) wins an Oscar for best actor in a gritty guy-loving war movie. In his acceptance speech he thanks the home team - agent, lawyer, family - as well as that English teacher who was not only an inspiration to him, but also gay.

Howard, Emily and the good citizens of Greenleaf are flabberghastlied. TV crews, headed by Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), descend upon the sleepy town. Howard's pupils have trouble taking it in ("He was my hero...until yesterday"), or believing what they have been told ("Mr Brackett's not gay! He just likes poetry and Shakespeare and uses his napkin"). Howard is in a tizz. His mother (Debbie Reynolds) won't hear of canceling the wedding. His fiancée doesn't know where to look.

Kline gives a clever performance, hinting at camp, but not redecorating the tent. You are never sure whether Brackett has recognised his true nature before Oscar night, or not, although assume so since he's the slim side of 40 and still riding a bike. Cusack, who specialises in jokey best friend roles, plays a devastated bride-to-be with toothsome gutsiness.

Selleck is the TV action actor who never made it onto the big screen, unless you're a Three Men And A Baby groupie and can't forget his coochie coo. Without the 'tache he's a dead ringer for George Clooney.

He's comfortable with that, not to mention being macho and gay (who isn't in this film?), which suits him. Rudnick in the mainstream is like a shark on hunger strike. Sex makes no appearance (ref: 12 cert). Oz likes his comedies clean and above board.

For Howard to come out, he has to admit he likes Barbra, dancing and neat bowties. It's that easy. Small town America can breathe again.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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In And Out packshot
Screwball comedy about a small town drama teacher who is 'outed' by a former student.
Amazon link

Director: Michael CatonJones

Writer: Paul Rudnick

Starring: Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon

Year: 1997

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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