IN & OUT is an audience-pleaser absurdist comedy from 1997 that wisely takes a humor-seduction approach to ‘normal’ middle-class Americans acceptance of The Homosexual Menace in their midst. Instead of sledgehamming anguish to knock down doors of prejudice, fear and ignorance, like Philadelphia, Milk or Brokeback Mountain, by using laughter to send up stereotypes, it’s more effective than guilt-trip, self-congratulatory heaviness.
Local actor-hero (Matt Dillon) wins an Oscar for Best Actor (beating, among other nominees, “Steven Seagal for Snowball in Hell”) and takes advantage of a worldwide audience to out his popular high school teacher (Kevin Kline), who is just about to be married (to Joan Cusack). Hometown farming burg ‘Greenleaf’, Indiana takes the stunning newsflash, frantic denial, press hordes and assorted dislocation with good-natured neighborly idiocy.
Lots of laughs in Paul Rudnicks script, directed energetically by Franz Oz, and hammed to a tee by a likable cast. Famous for a liplock laid on Kline by Tom Selleck, and for a hilarious performance from Ms.Cusack as the understandably vexed bride-to-be.
Critics were amused and the happy take of $64,000,000 (against a cost of $35,000,000) gave Kline (who’s great as usual) his biggest hit in a decade. Cusack was justly nominated as Best Supporting Actress by the Academy, another laurel to grace one of the best comic actresses around, ever.
92 minutes does not outplay its welcome, though the music score by Marc Shaiman occasionally overdoses on the cutes. Having a good time with the silly and winning material are Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley, Zak Orth, Bob Newhart, Lauren Ambrose and Dan Hedaya.
The local high school motto is ‘Studiare, Imparare, Partire’–‘Study, Learn, Leave.’