In & Out

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 86:58 Minutes 
(Not 90 Minutes as per packaging)
Other Extras Cast & Crew Interviews
Featurette - The Making Of In & Out (5:33)
Cast Biographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Frank Oz

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Kevin Kline 
Joan Cusack 
Matt Dillon 
Debbie Reynolds 
Wilford Brimley 
Bob Newhart 
Tom Selleck
Case Brackley
RRP $34.95 Music Marc Shaiman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English (MPEG 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English (MPEG 5.1, 256Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    It should be noted that when I think of films which are distributed by Roadshow Home Entertainment in Region 4 that I would like to see transferred to our beloved discs, I think of such titles as Mad Max and Gummo, to name just a couple. Mad Max was a brilliant film about a man being destroyed by an increasingly lawless world, motivated to exact vengeance in a thrilling and enjoyable manner. Gummo's rather mixed soundtrack contains songs by the likes of the mighty Bethlehem that will literally make your blood curdle, which should tell you something about the story. So what, exactly, does In & Out, a very early effort by Roadshow Home Entertainment have to offer us in the way of entertainment value? Very little in the way of entertainment, I am afraid, and quite a lot in the way of stereotyping, and apathy-inducing stereotyping at that. I certainly remember much better efforts in filmmaking that were helmed by Frank Oz (Sibling Rivalry is one example that comes to mind, now that I think about it).

    In & Out is the story of Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline), a high school English teacher who is about to marry Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack). Howard is a very artistic kind of person, at least according to the story: he dances, he loves English literature, and he can tell you what Barbara Streisand's eighth album was. How these attributes make one artistic is a question that obviously only the likes of commercial disc jockeys can answer, but I'll leave the nitpicking about that particular characterization out of this review due to having bigger fish to fry. Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) used to be one of Howard's pupils, and has gone on to win an Oscar for his portrayal of a gay man in the army. I would just like to tell Matt to drink up that particular role, because based on the other efforts I've seen him turn in with films like Wild Things and There's Something About Mary, this is as close as he'll ever get to actually winning an Oscar. Anyway, during his acceptance speech, Cameron tells everyone how he couldn't have done it without his English teacher, and then informs the world that Howard is gay. This is something that even Howard was not aware of, and naturally causes a lot of consternation.

    The rest of the film revolves around the question of whether Howard is actually gay or not, and the local townsfolk's reactions to each situation that lends a little credence to either answer. The film begins as a very clumsy and farcical comedy with some ridiculously overplayed stereotypical parts, and then the film does a complete backflip halfway through to become much more serious whilst remaining lighthearted. Somehow, I get the feeling that this film was intended for audiences in the USA's region that is notoriously known as the Bible belt, because whenever the question of Howard's sexual orientation is raised in this film, you can just picture most of the audiences who are actually comfortable with their sexuality screaming "we do not give a toss". The most telling moment is when a gay news reporter by the name of Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck) gives Howard a lengthy and unwelcome kiss. I must admit, when I think of actors who would be good to play a stereotypical gay man, Tom Selleck is one name that springs to mind. Kevin Kline, by comparison, is not convincing in his role at either half of the story, although the lack of depth in the script would certain leave him with his work cut out for him. Joan Cusack, by comparison, is delightful in her role as Emily, and is about the only saving grace of this film. I really hope that I get to see a lot more of her in films, although I certainly prefer those of the Grosse Pointe Blank variety for reasons that must be all too obvious by now.

    Stereotyping never equals good entertainment for me, and In & Out has way too much of it in a very short and shallow film (when you take out the opening and closing credits, you're left with about seventy-six minutes of film). When I see a film about a minority, or a person who is trying to counter the impression that he is a part of that minority, I expect to see the characters portrayed as fleshed-out human beings with hopes, dreams, and feelings, as was the case in As Good As It Gets. In & Out, by comparison, leaves me feeling cold with the sad lack of depth to its story and its characterizations, which really border on the malicious at times.

Transfer Quality


    Being an early effort from Roadshow Home Entertainment, this video transfer is good without really excelling in any manner. The video transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. The transfer is sharp and clear at all times, although the subject of most of the shots is really not that much to remark upon in the first place. Shadow detail is only really acceptable, although most of the film is shot in locations that are quite brightly lit anyway. Low-level noise was completely absent from the picture.

    The colours are nicely and evenly balanced throughout the film, with a variety of well-saturated hues beaming out from the video stream at all times.

    MPEG artefacts were absent from the transfer, although there appeared to be a moment where Matt Dillon's shirt exhibits what appears to either be a smudge on the negative or a pixelization. Given that this is the only time anything resembling an MPEG-based problem appears in the film, I would happily accept the former explanation. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing and telecine wobble, with the first sixteen minutes of the film in particular being rather badly affected by aliasing and moiré effects in shots of menswear. The opening credits are particularly affected by telecine wobble, with the image noticeably waving up and down as if the cameraman was drunk. Film artefacts were frequently present, and present to an extent that we should not see in a three year old film, especially during the opening credits, which were already hampered enough by the telecine wobble.

    Subtitles are completely absent from this disc, but one thing I would like to comment on is the fact that in this film, the closing credits begin with subtitles listing the name of characters that are in frame, and the name of the actor who played them. This is a feature I sorely wish that all films would incorporate to some degree, as it makes determining who did what during a film such as this a lot easier.


    There are three audio tracks present on this DVD, all of which are of the original English dialogue. We have a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1, MPEG 2.0 surround-encoded and MPEG 5.1 sound, with the Dolby Digital track encoded as the default. I listened to the Dolby Digital soundtrack due to the fact that one of the players I have in my setup cannot decode MPEG audio. The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, except for moments when characters spoke a little too fast for the viewer to catch what they were saying the first time around. The loudest parts of the dialogue suffered from slight distortion, but this was only an occasional problem. What was of greater concern to me was the fact that there is a slight audio dropout at 23:25, during a locker-room conversation between a group of homophobic students. It sounds like a very short click or pop, and while it is only mild, it shouldn't occur on a DVD presentation. Audio sync was never a problem with the Dolby Digital soundtrack, although I would advise that there may be problems with the MPEG soundtrack because of one problem with an extra.

    The music in this film consists of a score by Marc Shaiman, whose name fails to ring any bells with me, and some contemporary music from artists who are stereotypically associated with homosexuality such as The Village People. It is nothing of any particular interest, and the score can be described as unremarkable at the best of times.

    The surround channels did not seem to get a lot of use except to support the music and ambient sounds. On one setup that I used to listen to this film, it seemed to be very much a front-and-centre mix, with nothing coming out of the rears at all. The surround presence was distinctly unremarkable, although it was certainly adequate for a dialogue-driven film. The subwoofer received a mild amount of use, but mostly sat in its usual location and played cards with the rears.


    This is a typically lacklustre collection of extras from Roadshow Home Entertainment, and all of them are presented in a Windowboxed form at the standard television aspect ratio of 1.33:1, but with 16x9 enhancement.


    The menu design is themed around the film, but is otherwise unremarkable except for the sadly, and typically annoying manner in which Village have arranged their scene selection menus.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, windowboxed with 16x9 enhancement. A choice of audio in MPEG 2.0 or Dolby Digital 2.0 is offered with this trailer.

Featurette - The Making Of In & Out

    This is your typical five-and-a-half-minute extended promotional trailer that Roadshow Home Entertainment like to waste space on our DVDs with, and it offers absolutely nothing of interest concerning the film. A choice of two soundtracks are offered with this featurette: Dolby Digital 2.0 and MPEG 2.0, which I didn't bother with because of the problem with getting MPEG audio to work with my regular setup. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is out of sync for a whole four seconds during the first minute or so of the featurette, and the rest of it is marred by frequent audio dropouts that are obviously the result of sloppy editing. This featurette should not have made it past quality control, and I heartily concur with Michael's call to get such featurettes off our DVDs.

Cast & Crew Interviews

    Let me be blunt: I hate the way that Roadshow Home Entertainment presents this kind of extra, and this is another thing that I wish they'd leave out in favour of a better bitrate for the film itself. The interviews are presented with a series of queries as choices in the menus, linked to video of the specific actor giving a response to the question. Village, this is not the way to present this kind of extra, and by the way, you've misspelt Joan Cusack's name twice in these menus. Another annoyance is the fact that these video snippets are only available with MPEG sound.

Cast Biographies

    Biographies for Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon, and Debbie Reynolds are provided. They are all restricted to one page, and the only thing worthy of note about them is the fact that Joan Cusack's name is misspelt once again.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     According to some sources in Region 1, the video transfer of this film is much better, with only a few minor artefacts spotted here and there as opposed to the artefact-riddled mess that constitutes the Region 4 version. Personally, if I had to have this film, I would save myself some money and stick with the Region 4 version, as the Region 1 version apparently retails for thirty of their dollars.


    In & Out is a rather sad excuse for a film, and the only reason I agreed to watch it was the presence of Joan Cusack, who received an award nomination for her trouble. It is presented on a DVD that can be described as good at the best of times (the film itself) and downright pathetic at the worst (the extras).

    The video quality is okay, but marred by an abundance of film and film-to-video artefacts.

    The audio quality is suited to the film's purposes, but is otherwise very ordinary and a waste of a 5.1 mix.

    The extras are practically worthless.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 25, 2000
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer