Mar 25, 2012

[Movies] In & Out (1997)

In 1994, the movie Philedelphia helped return the fact that gay people exist in terms of the consciousness of popular media. The movie wasn't the first major movie to discuss LGBT themes, but it certainly was a major moment especially given the attention it received at the Academy Awards in terms of nominations and a few actual awards for Best Actor and Best Original Song.

There's something about such moments that leads to more and more LGBT-related concepts creeping into popular media, as is oddly evidenced by the creation of comedies that try to tackle the subject. And whether or not you want to recognize such movies as key moments in LGBT history, you still need to acknowledge that they had some impact on things on the whole.

I saw this movie well before I understood what being gay meant or even before I realized that I was gay myself. But I'd be crazy to say that the movie didn't help things along in the long run, especially when I did start thinking about my sexual identity and where exactly I fit in the world. And so the movie still deserves it's time in the sun.

In & Out is a 1997 romantic comedy directed by Frank Oz (yes, of Muppets fame) with screenplay by Paul Rudnick. It's stated that the movie was inspired by Tom Hanks's Oscar acceptance speech where he cite key gay figures in his life, which was essentially a public outing.

American actor Kevin Kline
American actor Kevin Kline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The movie centers around Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is a popular English teacher at a university in Greenleaf, Indiana. He's engaged to be married to another teacher, Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack) and things seem well enough. The big news for the small town centers around one of his previous students, Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) having been nominated for an Academy Award for his role as a gay soldier. When he does win the award, the decides to thank his former teacher for the critical role in his life - and mentioned the fact that he's supposedly gay.

Thus chaos ensues as the Greenleaf community, especially Howard's family, react to the news that he's gay. But the one who's most surprised is Howard himself as the tries to figure out what he may have done to get Cameron to believe that he's homosexual. And with Howard's big wedding to Emily being just around the corner, he now needs to reassure everyone that he is not gay, come to terms with possible behaviors that send mixed signals and parrying reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), who remains in town to follow this story.

The movie is undeniably funny since it helped bring to the fore a lot of the usual tropes and stereotypes that we've come to associate with gay men. While typically one would frown upon the promotion of stereotypes in general, in this case it was done in good taste (more or less). And for many people outside the LGBT community, this was probably the first time that they had come to face said stereotypes and thus review what they know of their own friends and family, for better or for worse. These days almost everyone has their own ideas of how to identity gay men and women out in the world for better or for worse. See how far things have come indeed.

Kevin Kline is a talented actor no matter how you look at it, and he certainly has a flair for comedy. While one might argue that he tends to act in generally the same way in most of his movies, it doesn't mean it totally doesn't work. And yes, the way he behaved in movies like Dave was rather similar to how he acted here, but then that may not be a bad thing. The positive addition he had for the community is the fact that they didn't resort to Howard being overly effeminate in order to portray him being gay. Instead they tried to keep things more or less on the fringes of things and making the question of Howard's sexuality a valid question until the last parts of the movie.

Tom Selleck just gets to be all Tom Selleck-ish, although the addition of him being comfortable with the subject of homosexuality in a rather intimate manner (including a now famous on-screen kiss) while still being the same sort of suave, confident person we've seen in other movies. It's also fun to have Joan Cusack in the movie as well, although that may be more because I have a soft spot for her performances. She's not a laugh out loud kind of comedian but she does have a certain brand of humor that I've come to respect.

In & Out is a fun movie that tackles the question of coming out, outing others and figuring out whether or not you're actually gay in a manner that may not be 100% accurate, but it does make it easier to digest for the general public. Thus it still rates a valid 4 stupid tips for being more butch out of a possible 5.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment