Writer Paul Rudnick knows a good idea when he hears one. When Tom Hanks talked about his openly gay high school drama teacher after winning the Oscar for Philadelphia, Hanks had already warned the teacher about the prime-time speech. For Rudnick's comedy, golden-boy star Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) announces at the Oscars (in a great lampoon of the ceremony) that his high school teacher was his inspiration, and by the way, he's gay. It's a shock to Howard Brackett's (Kevin Kline) small world in the corn belt. That includes his students, parents, coworkers and most importantly, his soon to be bride (Joan Cusack). Rudnick, the most successful and outspoken gay screenwriter-playwright (Jeffrey, The Addams Family) working today has hit cinematic gold. Besides Brackett's running around in crisis control, Rudnick allows a great deal of time to what others think. A typical line: "Mr Brackett's not gay! He just likes poetry and Shakespeare and uses his napkin!"
In & Out is a screwball comedy first, a banter of how society deals with homosexuality second. Kline is at the top of his comedic talents here; a weaker actor would permit Joan Cusack to steal the entire movie as the bemused bride. Cusack, an Oscar nominee for the role, nails some of the funniest moments from any film that year. Seemingly forgotten as a cinematic presence, a clean-shaven Tom Selleck and his 24-carat gold personality is something to reckon with again. As a Hollywood reporter on the case, Selleck, without moustache, comes off more as George Clooney's older brother than as Magnum PI. The movie is helmed by Frank Oz, the voice of Miss Piggy, who has quietly put together a very impressive list of comedies: Little Shop of Horrors, Housesitter and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. --Doug Thomas