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
Time has not been good for "In & Out." In it's day, I'm sure it was seen as progressive and out there, but the boundaries it breaks have long since been broken, and the stereotypes it lampoons have been more or less destroyed. Unfortunately, that's what "In & Out" relies on, and it makes the jokes seem tired.
Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is a beloved English teacher at a high school in small-town Indiana. His world is about to be turned upside down when a former student, Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) announces to the world that Brackett is gay in his acceptance speech. Even worse, this happens three days before his wedding to Emily (Joan Cusack).
The acting is great. Kevin Kline delivers a fine performance as Howard, displaying great comic aptitude while still leaving room for the audience's sympathy. Joan Cusack is even better as Emily. One might wonder why she received an Oscar nod for this film (this is not the kind of film that the Oscars usually recognize), but it becomes clear her biggest scene. However, the best performance comes from Matt Dillon. Dillon avoids the temptation to make Cameron a celebrity jerk (i.e. superficial, snobby, etc.). Cameron is actually a likable guy. Supporting performances from Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley (Howard's parents) are good, though Bob Newhart is awful (due to the timing and his performance).
Frank Oz knows how to make mainstream comedy. "What About Bob," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," and "Bowfinger" are a few of his comedy hits. He keeps things moving, and he knows how to make an audience laugh.
Scott Rudkin's script relies on pushing boundaries for humor. But, as I said, the gay stereotypes that he lampoons are so commonplace that they seem tired in today's climate. More importantly, the setting no longer works. Homophobia is not accepted in most parts of the country, and this diminishes the tension from the story, and renders many of the jokes ineffective. Being out is very acceptable today, and the all-around nervousness is not believable any more.
"In & Out" is not a complete waste of time. Ther are some humorous bits sprinkled around. But it's not enough to warrant a recommendation.
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