September 21, 1997 -- "In and Out" starts out as a very funny movie, but loses its way about half way through and devolves into a sort of preachy gay weak imitation of "Mr. Holland's Opus."
Kevin Kline stars as Howard Brackett, an outstanding high school teacher, who is about to be married to another teacher, Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack). A few days before the wedding, Brackett and Montgomery's lives are torn apart by an announcement by one of Brackett's former students, Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) that Brackett is a homosexual.
Brackett denies he is gay, and why Drake says this in front of a worldwide television audience is never explained in the film. Oh, the script makes a stab at it. Drake supposedly assumed Brackett was gay because of limp wrists, his love of show tunes and his fitting the gay profile in other ways. The problem is, you don't come out and say something like that unless you know it for a fact. If he knew that for a fact, how did he know? It is an important question the movie doesn't have the guts to address it.
Brackett tries to go on about his life as if nothing happened, but he can't. The hounds of the media, led by Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), are after him, and everybody else is prying into his sexuality. In desperation, he turns to a priest, who tells him he ought to have sex with his fianc‚e prior to the wedding, just to make sure. I'm not making this up. Only in Hollywood would such a thing pass for morality.
The second half of the film really unravels and Brackett's, and especially Montgomery's life really fall to pieces. This part is not as funny as the first, and the ending, where the script writer, Paul Rudnick, tries to put a happy face on what is essentially a sad situation (Brackett loses his job and Montgomery's heart is broken) is lame, to say the least.
The story never seems to be able to get past homosexual stereotypes to the point where it treats the characters as real people. In fact, none of the characters rings true, including Kline's character. Most of them seem to have been recycled from "Northern Exposure," except they are not as interesting.
Still, the first half of the film is very good, and there are some fine performances by Kline, Cusack, Selleck, Bob Newhart (school principal), and Debbie Reynolds, who plays Brackett's mother. Overall, it isn't bad, but it is disappointing. It rates a C.
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