- Accidental Aesop: "It is wrong to fire someone based on their sexual orientation," after the board of education fired Howard after coming out (although they denied the cause as Howard's sexual orientation, it was obvious that was the real reason). The only reason this is an accidental Aesop instead of an intentional one, was this was in the '90s when people still thought it was illegal to terminate employment based on sexuality, although nowadays it's all too painfully obvious this is not the case (in reality, Indiana was and still is one of the 29 states where it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay). This also gives the movie a new relevance to issues concerning gay rights in today's society.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Hollywood star Cameron Drake really an honest supporter of gay rights, or is he just using gay equality as a platform to increase his own recognition? What really calls this into question was his acceptance speech, where after he thanks his former teacher for inspiring him, he deliberately blurts out "... and he's gay!" When you look at the speech alone the closer is so awkward that it comes off more as a desperate attempt for attention, instead of as giving credit to someone who inspired you. Of course, he spends the entire rest of the movie trying to make up for his gaffe once he's realized it, so the movie clearly intends him to be a fairly moral and considerate sort of person who just screwed up.
- Funny Moments:
- Heartwarming Moments: When Cameron tells poor, insecure Emily she was Beautiful All Along.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the Best Actor nominees Cameron is up against is none other than Clint Eastwood, for a film called Codger. While intended to be a Take That! at Eastwood's advanced age, Gran Torino essentially brought the idea to life 11 years later.
- Values Dissonance: The film has an unfortunate tendency to reinforce assumptions about what types of personal traits, interests, tastes, etc. are inherently "gay", even as it mocks its characters' espousal of those same stereotypes.
YMMV / In & Out