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In & Out

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In & Out

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Screenwriter Paul Rudnick could be the closest thing 1990s Hollywood has to Preston Sturges, and in this era of Jim Carrey's slapstick seizures and Adam Sandler's deliberate anti-cleverness, it's a welcome thing. His In & Out is a smoothly paced, often wildly funny tale of a high-school English teacher (Kevin Kline) who is outed during the Oscar telecast by a former student-turned-hot-actor (Matt Dillon, spoofing Brad Pitt). Throughout the film, Rudnick displays a flair for witty dialogue, broadly sketched but engaging small-town eccentrics, very public revelations, and gleefully bitchy swipes at show-biz pretensions. Kline's timing is sharp, and Joan Cusack is hilarious and surprisingly sympathetic as his long-suffering fiancée. The movie doesn't address the complexities of human sexuality—Kline's own self-discovery comes during his uncontrollable response to a disco tune—and the resolution seems too sunny. But In & Out is not so much a depiction of gay life as it is a screwball excursion that uses the question of sexuality as its comedic crux. It's a quirky testament to Rudnick's skill that he can exploit and criticize gay stereotypes without apparent contradiction. The much-hyped kissing scene between Kline and Tom Selleck is not very sexy.