Saturday, July 9, 2016

Andrew Nackman | Fourth Man Out

mr. wrong
by Douglas Messerli

Aaron Danick (screenplay), Andrew Nackman (director) Fourth Man Out / 2016

In his film Fourth Man Out director Andrew Nackman clearly couldn’t determine what kind of movie he was attempting to make. Was it to be a wacky “bro” movie, where four blue-collar friends get together on weekends for ballgames, beer, boobs and fag jokes? Or was he attempting to show the difficulties of an individual in such a culture in expressing his own sexual difference? Perhaps he was simply satirizing small town America. Of course, a brilliant director might have possibly accomplished all of these in one fell swoop, but Nackman, alas, is not a brilliant director.


     Local mechanic Adam (Evan Todd) has, somewhat inexplicably, finally determined, after ten years, to come out to his three macho friends; but given their own homophobic and misogynistic behavior, he simply cannot get up the nerve. Only as they lay half asleep, sprawled out on couches and chairs does he get up the nerve to whisper the news to the best of his friends, Chris (Parker Young). And when his other friends, Nick (Chord Overstreet) and the overweight Ortu (Jon Gabrus) get wind of his admission, their fear and trembling is apparent. The equally unattractive and self-doting Nick is even convinced, soon after, that Adam is seeking a sexual relationship with him!
      Chris eventually calms them down, and with the help of Chris’ date, Tracy (Jennifer Damiano), comes to realize just how difficult it has been for Adam to tell them the truth. Soon they are all going on-line to gay dating sites such as Grindr and reading gay sex manuals in order to help their friend to find Mr. Right. In the end, they seem to know more about gay life that Adam himself.
      Adam even gets up the nerve to tell his parents, and before long the whole town knows of his sexuality, including his fanatically religious Catholic neighbor Martha (Brooke Dillman) who for years has been offering him up baked-goods along with her niece. 
      Given these developments, this film might have been comedically charming—and at moments it is—if it weren’t for Nackman’s own seeming bigotry about gay “types.” In just a few moments, as Adam tries dating several men at the local Irish pub, the film offers us up a sleazy married man—with the on-like moniker of Bradstar—who has turned his basement into a dungeon for his gay dates, a nelly queen, a nervous not quite out of the closet boy, a tough jocko loudmouth obsessed with Scarface, and a effeminate black gay who’s offended by Adam’s flatulents (who might not be?)—a gag-result of a meal of nachos. Even if one might imagine that all these young gay stereotypes might exist in this small town, the caricatures drain any credibility from Nackman’s film, and merely reiterate the silliest and most obnoxious visions of gay life. Surely, Nackman seems to argue, these are the not the right partners for the straight-looking working-class Adam. A later date with an outlandish queer artist truly crosses the line—even for Chris, who suddenly claims to be Adam’s lover to get rid of the snobbish prick.
     When Adam finally “services” the car of a very handsome man of his age who drives around town with two kayaks attached to the roof, he feels he’s finally found the right man, especially when they share a moment of intense eye contact. But at the very moment when the attractive car owner is set to pick up his car, mechanic Adam is sent away on an errand, and misses what may seem to be his last opportunity.
     Of course, that gives Adam’s friends time to take him out, for what is apparently for the first time—again an inexplicable narrative twist—to the small city’s gay bar, where not only do they all have a good time, but where Chris is able, once more, to connect up with Tracy, who’s there, apparently, with her gay brother.
      Meanwhile, Chris is having trouble with his current lover, Jessica (Jordan Lane Price); he apparently can longer get an erection, and soon after, encountering the kayak-topped car in a parking lot, he determines to bash it in with a hockey stick. We can no longer quite guess his intent. But having recently attempted to kiss Adam, he, we suspect, may be coming to terms with something he has never before admitted to himself, that he actually is in love with Adam.
      This might have resulted in a very fascinating conundrum, which could have completely redeemed the emptiness of the rest of Nackman’s work if he had explored its consequences, but clearly the director was not willing to go where the script might naturally have led him. Adam adamantly rejects Chris’ advances, and the film ends with the easy resolution of Adam reintroducing him, yet again, to “Tracy,” whose real name, it turns out, is something else. 
      Of course, Mr. Right, having again to repair his car, returns to the garage where, this time around, Adam has the chance to truly introduce himself. Presumably they will soon be driving off into the sunset to kayak together down some lonely stream. But, I have to tell you, Parker Young is far cuter, and if I were Adam I surely would have returned his kiss.

Los Angeles, July 9, 2016

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