“In & Out” and “The Birdcage” are two movies that are intertwined in my heart as the best gay comedies of the ’90s. While they have a few similarities — both feature protagonists on the run from the media; both dissect what it means to be a man; “Spartacus;” Jay Leno cameos as himself as host of the Tonight Show; and “In & Out” even directly references “The Birdcage” — they are really quite different. “The Birdcage” is more unabashedly gay, while “In & Out” is about a man coming to grips with his sexuality.
But of the two of them, “The Birdcage” has attained a sort of legendary cult status, while “In & Out” has faded into obscurity, and I’m here to make the case that the latter deserves as much love as the former. What sets “In & Out” apart from “The Birdcage” is that despite the latter being gayer in terms of tone and style, “In & Out” is much better in conveying queer acceptance and foreshadowing greater acceptance of gay life in America in the coming years.