In & Out in Retrospect

It’s hard to watch a movie like In & Out without offering up a little perspective first. First off, the film is 13 years old so watching it now that I’m older than 10, it makes a little more sense. But what’s most alarming about In & Out is that looking past all the stereotypes and Barbara Streisand jokes, it’s actually surprisingly progressive.

One of the most enjoyable parts about the movie is Hollywood bashing itself for being so self-congratulatory. I mean, after all, that’s sort of the set-up for the whole fiasco. I’m not sure why, but self-deprecating humor always strikes a chord with me so when Hollywood was showing some much needed humility I couldn’t help but laugh.

But back to the film’s main point, the much discussed topic of sexuality. Sure, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it presents some pretty forward-thinking ideas for a time when homosexuality and Hollywood were less than ideal bedfellows. Like I said earlier, there are plenty of jabs at the stereotypes of the gay community. If I was playing a drinking game every time they referenced Barbara Streisand, I would’ve been drunk about 20 minutes. Naturally, some of the material is lost on me, although I understand the basic stereotypes. Barbara loving, well-dressed, loves to dance? Let’s be real, I grew up in small-town Ohio, I’ve heard all the offensive ones before, but it doesn’t make them ring any truer.

Beneath all that though, there’s a strong message of tolerance and acceptance. Looking back at when it was made, there weren’t a whole lot of other movies like it being made. True, The Birdcage had proceeded it, but with The Birdcage, there was a strong fear of sexualizing the characters. In & Out featured the kiss between Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck that was pretty progressive at the time. It’s true, a kiss doesn’t seem that radical now, but at the time, for two mainstream actors, it was pretty much career suicide.

Watching In & Out, sexual politics aside, was surprisingly enjoyable to me. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, but there’s so much going on with it that, although the whole homosexuality thing is the main focus and selling point, there’s enough going on that sexuality doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Plus, with such a strong supporting cast, you can’t really go wrong.

Although the main focus is Kevin Kline, there’s a lot more to be enjoyed beyond that. Interesting and eccentric caricatures of small-town life make for an entertaining and somewhat frivolous time. All in all, In & Out could simply be described as a movie about a man trying to prove himself to his friends and neighbors as well as to himself. However, that would be ignoring some of the most enjoyable elements. The self-deprecating humor of Hollywood, the comedic small town, and the ridiculous characters that In & Out has to offer make it a surprisingly progressive yet comfortably frivolous Hollywood comedy.

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