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In & Out (1997) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

*Spoiler Alert!*

First of all, this movie is not about the famous fast-food joint. Instead, it is one of the most hilarious and scandalous films ever to come out of the 1990s. During that particular decade, people were becoming more aware of the AIDS epidemic. Around that same time, audiences started to embrace LGBT culture in entertainment, including the beloved sitcom Will & Grace. Tom Hanks famously won his first Academy Award for playing a gay man in Philadelphia (1993), and he thanked two gay men in his life while wearing a red ribbon to support the cause against fighting AIDS. That pivotal moment during the Oscar ceremony inspired the film In & Out, and the final result is one of the most “colorful” comedies ever created (pun intended).

A Toast

Since this is a risqué comedy, this film is obviously funny. Kevin Kline delivers a Golden Globe-nominated performance as Howard Brackett, a high school English teacher who has to come to terms with his own homosexuality after one of his former students told millions of viewers that Mr. Brackett’s orientation inspired him during a fictionalized Academy Award ceremony. The film depicts the differences between gay men and straight men in ways that are both honest and hilarious. For example, there is a very famous scene in which Kevin Kline shows off his dance moves in spite of the notion that “manly men don’t dance.” Joan Cusack also delivers an Oscar-nominated performance in this film as Emily Montgomery, a woman desperate for a husband who feels flabbergasted when Howard admits that he is gay on their wedding day. The film as a whole is a classic within queer cinema, and it is a funny coincidence that this film was made around the same time that Will & Grace became a landmark in television history.

Beer Two

In spite of such humor and a major step forward for how Hollywood addresses LGBT issues, the running gag about Barbra Streisand is a bit repetitive. The film obviously keeps referencing Streisand because she remains a major icon within the gay community (as of 2019). It just feels a bit insulting to one of the greatest entertainers that the world has ever known, especially since Streisand herself is an Oscar-winning actress and a phenomenal singer-songwriter. Hopefully the real Barbra Streisand did not take those jokes personally, *spoiler* especially when Emily screams, “F*CK BARBRA STREISAND!”).


As of 2019, one of the key issues going on in Hollywood is how films both depict and address diversity given the fact that film lovers are very diverse in real life. That is why films like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians were both groundbreaking films for minorities in 2018. Hollywood is actually slowly learning to avoid whitewashing cinema (especially since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was a major issue for films released in 2014 and 2015). The rainbow remains a popular symbol for hope, beauty, and the LGBT community, and it is nice to know that films are being more frank and open when it comes to depicting reality because of the historical notion that the real world is different from the cinematic world.

In & Out (1997) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every gay joke or reference

Take a Drink: for every joke containing innuendo

Take a Drink: for every male-on-male kiss

Do a Shot: every time Barbra Streisand is mentioned or referenced

Do Another Shot: for every reference to Barbra Streisand films, including Funny Girl (1968) and the sequel Funny Lady (1975)

Have a Drink of Your Choice: for every scene that takes place in “manly bars,” including the part when Emily drinks out of frustration

And Cheers: when Howard Brackett proves that he is not a “manly man” through his epic dance moves

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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