Wednesday, February 08, 2017


For the most part, it seems like there are two ways that LGBT characters appear in movies these days. (Which, right there, is admittedly an improvement on the past.) They'll sometimes be shoehorned in among the supporting characters of a more mainstream movie (for comic relief, or to check the diversity box). Or they'll stand front and center in some little-seen art house drama that's courting awards. So when a movie comes along like 4th Man Out, doing neither thing, I feel compelled to take a look.

4th Man Out definitely qualifies as a "little seen indie movie," but it isn't a dramatic piece of award bait. It centers around a foursome of 20-something guys, longtime friends. Three are stereotypical hound dogs -- "red-blooded young men," as the cliche would go. The fourth finally works up the courage to come out to the group as gay. After some initial awkwardness, the other three resolve to help their friend "meet Mr. Right."

Basically, the recipe here is a pinch of rom-com, a dash of raunch-com, and the hope that the focus on a gay character makes the familiar feel a bit novel. And if that reads to you like less than a ringing endorsement, we're mostly on the same page. 4th Man Out isn't as much as it could be, in a lot of ways. It's a decent enough movie, yet not as funny, or raunchy, or romantic, or sweet, or over-the-top as it would need to be to stand out from the pack if it weren't for the gay element. In a weird way, maybe that's the dream: gay characters can star in good-but-not-great movies too!

I would have just filed this movie away as forgettable (and likely with a lower grade)... except that it does have a couple of scenes that do manage to be better. Each is a two character scene addressing the difficulties of coming out to family and friends -- one between the main character and his mother, the other between him and his best friend. Neither scene wrenches the movie too sharply into drama territory, yet both are incredibly honest and realistic moments (and seem all the more so amid the lightweight surroundings). Of course, it's probably not the best thing when the most effective scenes in your comedy make the eyes a bit wet and the throat a bit dry. But they are effective and memorable scenes all the same, and do make the movie stand out in its own modest way.

In the end, I found 4th Man Out to be a decent movie, even though not exceptional. I'd grade it a B. I'm glad a movie like it got made, even if it's not something I'd push anyone and everyone to see.

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