This movie was very funny. In fact, this is the funniest movie of the year, and not just because there have not really been any comedies this year. Kevin Kline was great as a straight-laced high-school English teacher who, after a former student proclaims on national TV that he is gay, suddenly finds that everyone he knows is second guessing his sexuality, even, as it turns out, himself. Even more entertaining was Joan Cusack, Howard's (Kline's) finacée whose entire life revolves around her husband-to-be. Also great were the four kids who played his students and his parents (Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley).
Not to ruin it for all of you, but it turns out that this movie has a hidden agenda. You see, Howard discovers that he really is gay and finds that he must now confront great losses in friendship as well as battle discrimination. The movie then also battles to win our hearts and to get us to root for a gay man, which, I must say, works very well. But most importantly, in my opinion, is that the humor of the movie is never lost. I was laughing throughout.
I must note, however, a few things. I find it very interesting that in both Ellen's "Coming Out" episode and in this movie, we are meant to feel empathy for a gay person with humor as the bridge from straight land to gay land, so to speak. The key to the audience's acceptance and empathy, however, seems to lie in the fact that both Ellen and Howard come to a realization that they are gay without ever actively participating in the act. Rather, they seem to say that being gay is who they are and how they feel rather than what they do. I am not arguing this perspective, but I am just pointing out that the audience's acceptance and/or empathy may not come as readily if scenes were included in which it was just even alluded to that so-and-so was having or did have a sexual interlude with their same-sex partner. Just something to think about.
And then there's the title: In & Out. Reflecting on the movie, I see that this describes how Howard was "in" the closet of homosexual secrecy and eventually came "out" of this closet. However, for whatever reason, I cannot remove the much less innocent and much more sickening sexual connotation that these words seem to imply, probably because of a scene where a high school boy philosophizes on why homosexuality is unnatural. His reason had to do with "in" holes vs. "out" holes. Was this done on purpose? Do other people feel this way? Who knows?
Personally, I feel that whatever message the makers of this movie were trying to send may have somehow gotten lost. You see, this movie, being a comedy, plays on all of our stereotypes of the gay man. The movie begins with a neat, prissy, clean, sensitive, and caring man trying to prove his manhood to the rest of the world. This was very funny in that most men have done SOMETHING in their lives that may not have been considered MANLY enough in the eyes of the rest of the world, and thus we men could identify with Kevin Kline's character as he struggled to find his niche in which he could express his emotions and still be considered a "normal guy." The motif of this movie seemed to start out as: "A man can be neat, kind-hearted, enjoy poetry, and still not be considered gay." But then, suddenly, Howard (Kevin Kline) decides that he is gay. That is when my identification with him was suddenly cut off. I still liked the guy and believed in his rights, but I no longer even remotely shared his struggle. Thus somehow by the end of the movie, the moral of the story seemed to have taken a twist: "Any man who enjoys watching FUNNY GIRL, likes to pick out floral arrangements, and abstains from pre-marital sex is DEFINITELY GAY, but that's OK because GAY PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE TOO." In my opinion, this latter turn only solidifies our personal fears and prejudices in addition to stifling the emotions of straight men across the land. But even so, through it all, we will all laugh because it is a VERY FUNNY MOVIE.
If you want to see a funny movie (and who wouldn't with 1997's comedic drought) then this is the movie to see. And while you're there, it may get you to think about how you feel about the whole "gay" thing.
How would you rate the movie In & Out?
So far, the average rating for In & Out is: 6.885 (104 votes)
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