Anthony's Film Review
In and Out (1997)
In and Out has a couple of laughs generated by some interesting characters...
During the 1994 Academy Awards, actor Tom Hanks won the award for Best Actor for his performance as a gay man in the film Philadelphia. During his acceptance speech, Hanks thanked a gay teacher for giving him insight for the role. Interestingly enough, someone had the idea of using this moment as the premise for a comedy film. The result: the 1997 romantic comedy In and Out in which a high school English teacher named Howard Brackett, played by Kevin Kline, finds himself in this same situation but with embarrassing results.
The story takes place in the small town of Greenleaf, Indiana. Brackett happens to be the former teacher of a Hollywood actor named Cameron Blake, played by Matt Dillon. Blake has just been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as a gay soldier in a war movie. When Blake is announced the winner, everyone in Greenleaf watching the ceremony on TV is excited, because Greenleaf was the town where this now highly successful actor grew up. Things go well until Blake mentions Brackett in a speech and says that the teacher is gay. The whole town goes completely silent.
Something like this shouldn't be too surprising, right?. But keep in mind that we're talking about a Midwestern town where things such as homosexuality are not generally viewed with acceptance. Hence, Brackett has to deal with the consequences of being forced out of the closet by a former student. His fiance, a teacher named Emily Montgomery, played by Joan Cusack, tries real hard to ignore this revelation, while a pushy TV reporter named Peter Malloy, played by Tom Selleck, tries to get Brackett on the air constantly for ratings. There's also his students, though they're not nearly as bad as, let's say, Bob Newhart as a conservative school board official named Tom Halliwell.
For me, In and Out was a series of funny scenes that I could often predict, so I only laughed a few times. Still, there were two scenes that did give me a bit of a chuckle. One involves Brackett listening to an instructional tape about manliness. It's funny because the guy on the tape sounds as if he could see what Brackett is doing, and when the guy instructs Brackett not to dance to any music because it isn't manly, Brackett does just that. The other scene is one of the final scenes, and without giving the whole thing away, I found it funny because of the way in which the whole town expresses tolerance towards homosexuality.
Despite mild laughs, I still found the story engaging enough, because I wanted to know what will ultimately happen to Brackett. After all, when you have a character who is put into an uncomfortable situation against his will, you expect to have funny consequences and funny ways for the character to deal with them. In and Out certainly has that. Plus, Kevin Kline does a decent job here. Given his memorable performance in the brilliant 1988 comedy A Fish Called Wanda, for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, he's not a bad choice for a comedy such as this one. Whether his role is gay or straight, he can certainly make you smile.
For more information about In and Out, visit the Internet Movie Database.