In & Out (1997) starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley directed by Frank Oz Movie Review

In & Out (1997)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck in In & Out

Kline & Selleck Have a Gay Old Time

How do you know someone is gay? They are fanatical about Barbara Streisand movies. Well that is basically the premise to "In & Out" starring Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck, a comedy revolving around being gay and the stereotypes of being gay. At its heart it does have a message about being gay but for the most "In & Out" is a movie which seems to have fun with both gay stereotypes as well as straight macho male stereotypes.

During the Oscars popular actor Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon - Beautiful Girls) out's his high school English teacher Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline - Dave) during his acceptance speech, much to the shock of Howard who is preparing to marry his fiancee Emily (Joan Cusack - Grosse Pointe Blank) and the rest of the town where Howard lives. Suddenly Howard's life is turned upside down by the media circus which rolls into the small town of Goldleaf in search of him. But with his friends treating him differently despite his denials and with an openly gay journalist Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck - 3 Men and a Little Lady) trying to prove to him that he is gay, life becomes seriously confusing as his wedding approaches.

Debbie Reynolds and Joan Cusack in In & Out

The storyline behind "In & Out" is for the most, or for at least half the movie, slim, with much loved teacher Howard Brackett being outed by one of his former students at the Oscar awards, despite not realizing it himself. What this means is we have joke after joke about how Howard can come across as being gay from the way he dresses, his love of poetry, his prissiness and of course his love of all things Barbara Streisand. Of course this also means we get plenty of obvious humour as people react differently to Howard, despite the fact he hasn't admitted to being gay. It is for the most fun, if not a little obvious, but little moments such as Howard's self help tape on how to be masculine is well worked to both make a point about male stereotypes as well as being funny.

Surprisingly there are some clever moments of humour such as openly gay TV journalist Peter Malloy attempts to prove to Howard that he is gay, culminating in a surprising kiss, which is made all the more funny considering its Hollywood Heart throb Tom Selleck ends up kissing Kevin Kline. But to be frank these clever moments are few and far between in a movie where obvious jokes are the mainstay of what makes it work. It's not a criticism as all the obvious gags surrounding stereotypes are worked surprisingly well to make "In & Out" both funny and inoffensive.

It's not until much later on that "In & Out" tries to deliver its message and makes a stand about the bigoted and uneducated views surrounding those who are openly gay. Though sadly it almost feels like an after thought, tagged on once the writers had become tired of making the jokes about stereotypes. It also doesn't help that whilst it's a very good message it is very forced rather than feeling a natural part of the movie. It gets the point across but could have been done so much better in a more natural manner.

What does help though is the clever casting and as already mentioned the inspired choice of casting Hollywood hunk Tom Selleck as a gay journalist really is rather good. But it is Kevin Kline as Howard Brackett who makes "In & Out" work, his slightly caricature like performance of a gay teacher is full of fun, but not in a cheap manner. When he starts dancing to "I Will Survive" in a camp manner it is funny but not in a derogatory way but in the way Kline makes it in the same fun manner as Hugh Grant's dancing in "Love Actually".

Elsewhere Joan Cusack is perfectly over the top as Howard's fiancee Emily, Matt Dillon with his bleached blond hair is amusing as the Hollywood heart throb Cameron Drake who outs Howard at the Oscar ceremony. Plus Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley add amusement as Howard's understanding but shocked parents.

But the thing is "In & Out" delivers a mixed message. At times it feels like it is trying to say that just because you act in a stereotypical gay manner doesn't make you gay yet Howard is a gay stereotype. It sort of softens parts of the movies that attempt to deliver a message.

What this all boils down to is that "In & Out" is a more than adequate comedy, which has its moments of fun but seems to lose the message it is trying to get across. In many ways it is indicative of comedies which try to deliver some sort of social statement because more often or not that important message or statement is lost in amongst all the humour and becomes a tagged on after thought.