In & Out



Lighthearted comedy gently satirizes "coming out."
  • Review Date: January 22, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie has a very strong "be true to yourself" message, no matter how difficult that may be and how many people it upsets. It also strongly promotes unconditional acceptance.

Positive role models

Howard spends most of the movie confused and struggling, but he considers others' feelings while working things out and never takes out his frustration on friends and family members. When others finally come around, it's mainly because of Howard's overall honesty and compassion than anything specific that he does or says. There's some stereotyping in certain scenes (such as when Howard tries to act extra "manly" or when his fiancee talks about him loving Barbra Streisand), but most of it is played for humor.


Not much of an issue, but there's a mild brawl during a bachelor party.


Plenty of mild, humorous sexual innuendo, if very little actual nudity or sex. As the main character wrestles with his sexuality, every other character relates to him in a sexual way. A male TV reporter kisses him passionately on the mouth; a priest recommends that he have sex with his fiancée (he tries, but it stops before it really gets started). At a bachelor party, viewers see a sex doll, and the main character asks to watch some porn. Teens have a discussion about "in holes and out holes."


One very notable use of the word "f--k," plus terms like "big homo," "queer," "Mary," and "sissy man," all used in an anti-gay context. There's also use of "testicles," "damn," "crap," "dick," "hell," "oh my God," and "goddamn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character gets a champagne bath in the school locker room and announces that he wants to get drunk at his bachelor party (characters also smoke cigars at the party). His fiancée and the TV reporter are seen in a bar drinking heavily to drown their troubles. A character mentions "heroin" in reference to something that's addicting.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that In & Out is a lightweight comedy that tackles the serious issue of sexual identity. After being publicly "outed," the main character spends the rest of the film struggling with his sexuality in a comical way, but it all has real consequences -- for him, his friends, and his family. Expect plenty of teasing and occasionally derogatory humor -- though it's mainly used in an ironic way to poke fun at the teaser, and the movie's overall tone is good-natured and well-balanced. Although the movie deals somewhat with issues related to sex (both same-sex and heterosexual), there's no nudity -- the topic is mostly covered in dialogue. Language includes a memorable use of "f--k," as well as terms like "homo" and "queer." The movie's "be true to yourself" theme also includes a small subplot about eating and weight.

What's the story?

Good-natured small town high school teacher Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) has it pretty good. He loves teaching Shakespeare and poetry, his students adore him, and he's about to marry longtime fiancée Emily (Joan Cusack). One of his former students, Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon), has even gone on to become a famous movie star. When Cameron wins an Oscar, he thanks his "gay teacher" on national television -- "outing" Howard in front of the whole world. The trouble is that Howard insists he's not gay ... or is he? He must decide before his wedding day, and it doesn't help that handsome, gay entertainment reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck) has decided to stay in town to do an in-depth story on the hapless teacher.

Is it any good?


In IN & OUT, screenwriter Paul Rudnick (Addams Family Values, Jeffrey) cooks up a solid script that's both wildly funny and gently satirical. It takes on a potentially explosive topic -- the "coming out" of a gay man in a small town -- and lightens it up by looking at preconceived notions about homosexuality and turning thm upside down. Most of the stereotypical humor winds up directed right back at the clueless straight characters, and so the movie winds up happily poking fun at everyone (with the audience comfortably in on the joke).

it's virtually impossible to not root for the sweet, kind hero, appealingly played by a befuddled Kline. The rest of the cast is fine as well, with Cusack a particular standout as Howard's bride-to-be, who slowly, hilariously becomes unraveled over the course of the film (she received an Oscar nomination for her work). Director Frank Oz (Bowfinger, Death at a Funeral) keeps things bright and cheerful and prevents any meanness from creeping in.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the film approaches its potentially controversial subject matter. is it appropriate to tackle big issues via light comedy? How does that impact the take-away?

  • What stereotypes does the movie include? Do you find them funny? Offensive? Both? Why? Are stereotypes ever appropriate?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 19, 1997
DVD release date:October 21, 1998
Cast:Joan Cusack, Kevin Kline, Matt Dillon, Tom Selleck
Director:Frank Oz
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content and some strong language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byKevinKlinelover February 9, 2012

Light-hearted in some cases

Good role - models but some things that audiences see or hear turn out to be shocking.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 March 1, 2010

Iffy for 15-16

This movie appears to contain some very strong themes.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written bymongofa May 27, 2010

Light-hearted film with strong-ish themes

Very light-hearted, yet strong themes. Good role models.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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