Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

In & Out


Simply the finest fast food burger chain in the West. (Maybe the East, too. I wasn’t impressed with White Castle sliders.) Since 1948 they have not varied their menu: burgers, fries, soft drinks, coffee, and shakes. You might notice that this is pretty much exactly what McDonalds served back in 1955. You don’t go to In-N-Out for a breakfast sandwich, a chicken sandwich, raspberry vinaigrette and walnut salads, lattes, pretzel buns, nuggets, supersize tacos, or any of that other crap everyone else peddles on their incredibly elaborate and ever-changing menus. You go there for burgers. They cut their fries fresh from actual potatoes, not frozen. And the burgers are terrific.

So how does this all work out for the chain? Well, I’ve seldom driven by one without a full parking lot and a long line at the drive-up. They never set out to blanket the country, but instead have expanded gradually, not franchising. Sadly, that means you can mostly get them only in California, though they now have a few in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and just a few months ago, in Medford, Oregon. Which means I am now only 280 miles from the nearest In-N-Out. It’s almost worth the trip.

Okay, what I’m really reviewing here in the movie starring Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack. He is an English teacher, well-liked, but maybe just a wee bit too into Barbra Streisand music and the Village People, if you get my drift. Wink, wink. He has been engaged to Joan for three years, and they have finally set the date. But one of his former students, Matt Dillon, a new heartthrob movie star, thanks Kevin at the Oscar ceremonies for being such a great teacher, and by the way, he’s gay. Which is news to the entire Indiana town, his family, and of course his fiancée. Soon his life is a media circus. His chief tormenter is Tom Selleck, who soon informs Kevin that he is gay, too. (There is a mouth-to-mouth kiss between the two of them that apparently was fairly controversial at the time. Oh, please!)

The only way this really could go is for him to actually be gay, so it wasn’t a big surprise to me when he finally came out, at the altar. (I’ve never been quite sure if he was coming out to himself, as well. If he had never admitted it to himself.) Anyway, the movie goes quite well for a long time, with great comic bits from both stars. Then it poops out with a long scene I didn’t believe for a YMCA second, an “I am Spartacus!” moment where the entire town stands up, one by one, and shouts out “I’m gay!” Oh, please! It Just Did Not Work. Not then, not even now, when things are looser in many ways. What, a town with no Baptists? No Mike Huckabees? No Kim Davis? Not in the USA I know, that’s for sure. I could have swallowed it if the students, who loved him, had risen up in anger and protested his firing, but this was too damn much.