All of Greenleaf, Indiana is watching this year's telecast of the Oscars as Hollywood heartthrob and local boy made good Cameron Drake has been nominated for his first ever Best Actor Oscar for his latest movie role as a gay soldier. Cameron's high school English teacher Howard Brackett is overjoyed when Cameron wins the award and mentions Howard's contribution in his acting life. That joy turns to horror when Cameron mentions to the worldwide audience that Howard is gay, especially horrific to Howard as he is engaged to fellow teacher Emily Montgomery, a woman with self-esteem issues as she had battled weight issues most of her life before she lost seventy-five pounds for the wedding. Howard's life is totally disrupted as Hollywood media descends on Greenleaf in order to get Howard's story. The rest of Greenleaf also openly wonders if Howard is indeed gay, as he exhibits many stereotypical gay tendencies, such as being neat, and loving music, dancing, poetry and Barbra Streisand. His... Written by
Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey, Addams Family Values) wrote this frothy tale of a mild mannered school teacher (Kevin Kline) who is outted on the Academy Awards by a former student-turned-actor (Matt Dillon). The rest of the film deals with the absurdities revolving around this setup -the effect on the town, his fiancee (Joan Cusack), himself- and climaxes with an everybody-loves-everybody finale.
If you're an angry gay rights activist or a naive youth looking for an accurate portrayal of a man's struggle to come out or a 'true' depiction of gay life, then save yourself the trouble and rent something else (maybe Beautiful Thing) or read a book (Giovanni's Room). If you are able to understand that this film was inspired by the piousness of Tom Hanks's speech on the Academy Awards when he won for Philadelphia and pokes fun at Hollywood culture and small town ignorance and you have a fondness for '30's screwball comedy (Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, The Palm Beach Story) then enjoy! Far from being a biting satire, the film tries for the exuberance of a Preston Sturges farce and comes damn close. No, it's not 'deep' or 'powerful' -neither were Romy & Michelle, 9 to 5, or Young Frankenstein- and it doesn't pretend to be; it keeps it's tongue-firmly-in-cheek. It gets too preachy and maudlin for its own good toward the end and sure some of the jokes are a bit stale (there's also a locker room scene that could have been cut) but after sitting through countless comedies that misfire, it's like a breath of fresh air.
Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck are wonderfully game while Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley add fine support. The excellent Joan Cusack's award winning performance is stellar and the great Bob Newhart is, well, Bob Newhart.
The fact that many have been offended by In & Out is as absurd as the mentality of the townsfolk it pokes fun at; personally, I was more offended by Philadelphia. I'll take harmless fluff over sanctimoniousness anytime.
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