In & Out is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by Frank Oz and starring Kevin Kline, Tom Selleck, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds, and Wilford Brimley. It is an original story by screenwriter Paul Rudnick. Joan Cusack was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
The film was inspired by Tom Hanks's tearful speech when he accepted his 1994 Oscar (for his role in Philadelphia), in which he mentioned his high-school drama coach Rawley Farnsworth, and his former classmate John Gilkerson, "two of the finest gay Americans, two wonderful men that I had the good fortune to be associated with." The film became one of mainstream Hollywood's few attempts at a comedic "gay movie" of its era, and was widely noted at the time for a 12-second kiss between Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck.
Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is a well-liked English literature teacher, living a quiet life in the fictional town of Greenleaf, Indiana, with his fiancée and fellow teacher Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack), who recently lost 75 pounds. The town is filled with anticipation over the nomination of Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon), Howard's former student, in the Best Actor category at the Academy Awards for his portrayal of a gay soldier in To Serve and Protect. Cameron does indeed win the award and, in his acceptance speech, thanks Howard, adding, "…and he's gay."
Howard's family, friends, students, co-workers and Emily are shocked; but that is nothing compared to Howard's own reaction of disbelief and indignation. He angrily reassures those who know him that he is heterosexual. Reporters invade his hometown, harassing him for interviews, following the awards night telecast; and Howard is placed under the scrutiny of his boss, Principal Tom Halliwell (Bob Newhart), who is uncomfortable with the attention being brought to the school.
Although the other reporters leave after getting their story, one stays behind: on-camera entertainment reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), who wants to wait the week out so he can cover Howard's wedding to Emily. Howard continues to be harassed and dismayed by the changed attitudes of everyone around him, and decides that he must sleep with Emily in order to prove his heterosexuality. Howard finds he cannot go through with it due to his conflicting emotions and Emily's concern for his well-being. Howard crosses paths with Peter, who reveals he is gay and, trying to provide a helpful ear, narrates his own experience in coming out to his family. Howard insists that he is not gay, prompting Peter to kiss him. Although shocked, Howard reacts somewhat positively to the kiss.
Howard's final measure to restore his heterosexuality is the use of a self-help audio cassette, although that fails as well. During the wedding ceremony, Emily recites her vow without hesitation, but when Howard is prompted by the minister, he instead says, "I'm gay." The wedding is called off, and although Peter is proud of Howard, Howard is angry with himself for hurting Emily. Howard is fired from the school because of his outing.
Despite no longer being on the faculty, Howard attends the graduation ceremony to support his students. When one student who got into college—thanks to Howard's hard work—learns that he was dismissed for being gay, he and his classmates proclaim themselves to be gay as well, showing their support. Howard's family follows suit, as do his friends, and all the townsfolk assembled. Having learned of the ensuing media blitz while in Los Angeles, Cameron flies to his hometown with his supermodel girlfriend (Shalom Harlow) to support his former teacher. Although Howard does not win "Teacher of the Year", Cameron presents him with his Oscar.
Howard's wedding-crazy mother (Debbie Reynolds) finally gets a wedding—her own, when she and her husband (Wilford Brimley) renew their vows. Howard, Peter and the rest of the townsfolk attend the reception. Among the crowd are Emily and Cameron, who appear to have begun a relationship. Everyone dances to the Village People's song "Macho Man".
According to Frank Oz, production had to be stopped temporarily because "we all got sick...because we all got the flu." Oz and Wilford Brimley did not get along during production.
Selected for its "beautiful auditorium, a great gymnasium" and other aesthetic qualities, the Pompton Lakes High School in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey was used extensively as a filming location for In & Out.
At first, Frank Oz asked Miles Goodman to do the music for In & Out. Goodman, who composed several of Oz's previous films, died before he could do so.
A soundtrack was released on Tuesday, September 23, 1997, featuring previously recorded songs as well as Marc Shaiman's instrumental music composed for the film.
- "I Will Survive" - Diana Ross
- "Wedding Preparations" (instrumental)
- "Everything's Coming up Roses" - Ethel Merman
- "'To Serve and Protect'" (instrumental)
- "Howard Is Outed" (instrumental)
- "The Morning After" (instrumental)
- "The Bachelor Party" (instrumental)
- "Interviews with Townsfolk" (instrumental)
- "Homosection" (instrumental)
- "I Don't" (instrumental)
- "Mom & Dad" (instrumental)
- "Cameron & Emily" (instrumental)
- "Crazy" - Patsy Cline
- "Teacher of the Year/People/The Wedding" (instrumental)
- "Macho Man" - Village People
The film was well received by critics. The performances were widely praised, especially those of Cusack, who eventually earned an Oscar nod, and Kline. The film also gained attention for depicting homosexuality in a "mainstream" comedy about "Middle America" which, Rita Kempley Howe wrote in The Washington Post, "manages to simultaneously flaunt and flout gay stereotypes." Critics also noted its generally asexual treatment of homosexuality: Janet Maslin commented in The New York Times that the film is not one "to associate gayness with actual sex," while TV Guide quipped that it "finally gets discussion about gay people out of the bedroom and into the record store." Despite generally positive reviews, several critics, even those who were complimentary, felt that the ending was weak and did not live up to the rest of the film.
The film has a 73% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 reviews; the site's consensus states: "It doesn't always find comfortable ground between broad comedy and social commentary, but lively performances—especially from Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack—enrich In & Out's mixture of laughs and sexual tolerance." At Metacritic the film has a rating of 70% based on reviews from 18 critics.
Cusack was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential.
American Film Institute recognition:AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs – Nominated
The film did well at the box office, grossing $15,019,821 in its opening weekend and $63,856,929 over its entire theatrical run.
In & Out was released on Region 1 DVD the year following the film's release, on October 21, 1998. The release does not include any extras besides the theatrical trailer. The Region 2 DVD was released on April 9, 2001.