By: Logan Sowash
It was amazing how quickly I was sold on the premise of Fourth Man Out. It was the first film to catch my interest from my initial glance through the Heartland guidebook. Its premise seemed unique enough to make it worth a watch. After the surprise that was The Big Lonely, I walked into a theater with some pretty decent expectations. I felt a comedy would be a nice contrast to the realism I experienced with The Big Lonely. Instead, I got something a little bit more than a simple comedy.
Fourth Man Out is about a group of friends that try to keep their dynamic after one of them admits to the others, on his 24th birthday, that he is gay. Shocked by this news yet happy for him, they try to use this news to help their friend while also getting used to this info which leads to drama, laughs and misunderstandings. As a film, it’s tonally similar to Judd Apatow films in that it’s a drama with a nice comedic layer on top. The pacing dragged a little at the end but it’s mostly very energetic and enjoyable throughout its runtime. Also, the story did take some twists and turns I didn’t expect which was nice.
The best part of the film is the camaraderie between the friends. Despite their cliché moments sprinkled throughout the film, their acting is very likeable and fantastic between the four of them, creating some really good comedic scenes and emotional moments. Besides that, I previously mentioned the film’s twisting story which feels genuinely interested in its characters. This helps the film stay interesting. Add some good comedic moments and good cinematography and you have a movie that surprised me in good ways.
However, it does have major flaws. Despite its twists and turns, the story unfortunately falls into familiar territory way too often, making some scenes extremely cliché and predictable. Also, the film’s tone can be wildly inconsistent. Sometimes it feels down-to-earth with its handling of a more modern version of a group of guy friends while other times it gets incredibly silly with characters that are far too cartoonish for the film I was watching a few minutes ago. It doesn’t kill the film for me but it was astounding to see clichés and weird tonal shifts like that after a really good opening act.
Overall, I really enjoyed Fourth Man Out. It definitely has its flaws but its likeable characters and interesting premise keep the film from being one of those generic straight-to-video films you accidentally come across on Netflix. Everyone involved did a really good job. If you’re near the Castleton or Trader’s Point area this week, I would recommend checking out during the festival. If not, definitely check it out when it releases on DVD/VOD because it is a fun movie that is very easy to watch.