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In & Out

In & Out

What She said:

She

In and Out truly is a product of the '90s.  Say movie execs decided to make a movie today about a high school teacher who is outed as gay before he even realizes it himself.  Well, I imagine it would be very unlike this 1997 flick.  I'm thinking much, much darker, edgier, and with a broader focus on the topic.  But since In and Out was created when it was, we instead have a fluffy, albeit pretty funny comedy that feels more like a rom-com than a social commentery.

Kevin Kline plays Howard Brackett, a suit wearing, bike riding, Streisand-loving high school English teacher who is engaged to marry longtime girlfriend and fellow teacher, Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack).  Brackett is cherished by his students, who appreciate his commitment to fiction and poetry, even if they have very little personal interest in the topics.  Fast forward to the days leading up to Howard's big day, and the Academy Awards are on TV.  A former student of Brackett's is up for the big award, and when he wins he calls out Howard as his inspiration, because he's gay. This is news to Howard who up until this point was pretty sure he was heterosexual.  Over the next week, Howard begins to question himself as his tendencies become loud and clear to him.  He must face the fact that he may actually be a homosexual, and that he has to break the news to Emily and the small gossipy town in which he lives. At the same time, he also realizes the new prejudices that he will face as an openly gay man.

In & Out

I made that plot seem a little heavier than it actually is.  Don't be mistaken, this movie is a light comedy that preys on gay stereotypes for humor.  It's so PC at some moments, and yet mildly offensive at others.  For example, it's a little off the mark when his students point out that Howard is clean, rides a bike, and loves poetry, so he must be gay.  You may feel bad laughing at something so overt, but at then same time it does point out some of the prejudices and stereotypes we perpetuate.  This movie has some genuinely funny moments and is easy to watch.  It'll be over before you know it.  I guess by '90s standards it might make you think a little, but it's not edgy enough for today's crowd.  We're past the superficial issues and have moved on to the bigger challenges facing the gay community in today's America.

Despite it's somewhat dated approach, In and Out is for the most part harmless fun.  It's not a fabulous or in any way unforgettable movie, but it's also workable for a boring Saturday afternoon.

Thumbs mostly up.

What He said:

He

Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is a popular English teacher in at Greenleaf High in Greenleaf, Indiana. Greenleaf is every bit as picturesque and perfect as you would think a fictional town would be. It’s the kind of place you want to live because it seems detached from the problems of the outside world, everyone is nice to each other, and it just generally seems like the kind of place you want to live. Oh and just in case you thought things couldn’t get more perfect, Howard is engaged to be married. His fiancé is fellow teacher Emily Montgomery, who pretty much seems like the female equivalent of him. Emily (Joan Cusack) is on cloud nine and very happy to be getting married, something she thought would never happen.

In & Out

The town is also abuzz because Greenleaf High alum – Cameron Drake – is nominated for an Academy Award. Cameron (Matt Dillon) is Hollywood’s new next big thing. Sure, he’s young and good looking, but what has really skyrocketed him fame is the movie he’s in, in which he plays a gay soldier. Cameron wins and in his acceptance speech he says Mr. Brackett was his inspiration, you know being gay and all.

Wait, what? This speech rocks the town like it’s never been rocked before. Howard’s parents (Wilford Brimley and Debbie Reynolds), his fiancé Emily, his students, and most of all Howard himself are all shocked by this news. Howard tries to clear the air, but that doesn’t stop the media – led by Tom Selleck – from invading the small town and turning it upside down. Chaos and hilarity ensure.

This is a light and entertaining movie, the kind that really doesn’t exist anymore. All of today’s comedies are either raunchy or about really screwed up people. That’s not to say I don’t like any of them, but when you see a movie like this, I do miss the more innocent times that are reflected in this movie. I’m not saying I’d want to go completely back to that way – because lets face if Full House and Family Matters were pretty brutal – but a little more balance would be nice.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was give the He Said, She Said seal of approval on April 14, 2013.

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