Title: In & Out
Director: Frank Oz
Writer: Paul Rudnick
Cinematography: Rob Hahn
Music: Marc Shaiman
Lewis J. Stadlen
A commercially successful mainstream out-of-the-closet comedy in the 90s mocking the stereotypical homophobia in the provincial Mid-western America, directed by the voice-of-Yoda, Frank Oz (THE STEPFORD WIVES 2004), and stars a dapper Kevin Cline as Howard Brackett, a high school English teacher being outed on the 68th Oscar ceremony by his former student Cameron Drake (Dillon) in his BEST ACTOR acceptance speech, in addition to that, he is scheduled to marry his longtime fiancée Emily (Cusack) within three days.
So Howard instantly not only becomes the headline personality at Greenleaf, Indiana, but also attracts Hollywood media, especially from the outed-gay anchorman Peter Malloy (Selleck). In order to quench everyone’s worries and inquisitiveness, Howard’s denial is ostensibly plausible, he is at most metro-sexual and painstakingly attempt to shatter the hackneyed idea of gay men to be masculine with the collateral damages including Barbra Streisand’s not-so-productive filmography and the heterosexual men’s privilege to dance.
Yet, the crunch arrives in the big wedding day where self-deception can not hold back the truth, Emily indignantly runs away from the alter in her wedding dress and apart from that, everyone else seems quite calm-cool-and-collected. The farce then takes a detour into a self-imposed queer-in-distress scenario for Howard in the third act after his spunky and honest coming-out, when he is fired for his sexuality and waiting hapless for the unanimous succor from his family, students and friends, which righteously secure a feel good ending to bolster the right opinion, one might appreciate the effort and motivation, but honestly speaking the entire grandstanding is very much contrived and cringe-inducing.
The biggest selling point is Joan Cusack’s second Oscar nomination for a genre rarely gets the attention of Academy members, and an outstanding feat for a comedienne to replicate her recognition again after WORKING GIRL (1988). Cusack never shies away from being an unassuming wallflower and her predicament in the film does lift the awareness of the unethical cost for a closeted gay man to marry an unwitting woman. Kline is quite competent as well, suave but internally is waiting to be swept off his feet by a kiss from a man, pitifully there aren’t ample room for the romance between him and Peter, but his dancing routine and spontaneous responsiveness showcase he is an ingrained comedian on precise tempo.
The story is elicited by the real event of Tom Hanks’ Oscar acceptance speech for PHILADELPHIA (1993) where he openly thanked his gay teacher, and the rest is the screenwriter Paul Rudnick’s wide fantasy, anyhow, it is pretty impressive to realize how our worldview has evolved towards homosexuality in a measly 17 years purely gauging by how dated this film looks, still, in the much conservative corners of the world, it will be a long expedition to indoctrinate the equality against wrongly-rooted prejudice, religious narrow-mindedness and man’s primal fear of wanting virility.