Jan 20, 2013

[Movies] The Men Next Door (2012)

The weird world of LGBT movies is one that is tricky to explore but certainly not dull. It's a segment of the movie-making universe that I feel is still truly defining itself as writers, directors and other movie folks try to take different approaches at telling stories about our community. And we're still in the process of redefining the sort of established genres like what LGBT dramas are like versus LGBT comedies.

I have no idea how anyone plans to define LGBT science fiction movies without being overly trite or something.

So I tend to cast a wide next when it comes to LGBT movies and I end up watching almost anything as long as it has gay protagonists. It's my odd way of trying to support the industry  even if indirectly with these reviews and discussions.

What is clear to me at this point is the fact that we still have a long way to go.

Synopsis: The Men Next Door is a 2012 LGBT comedy written and directed by Rob Williams through Guest House Films. These are the same folks who brought us the Christmas comedy, Make the Yuletide Gay among other LGBT movies.

It's the 40th birthday of Doug (Eric Dean) and things are off to a horrible start. One-by-one his friends are calling to cancel attending his birthday celebration and naturally this has Doug rather peeved. To top it all off, his (non-identical) twin brother sends him a rather...undesired birthday gift. So when his new 30 year old neighbor Colton (Benjamin Lutz) drops by, Doug oddly mistakes him for a stripper and proceeds to take off his clothes. Despite the awkward beginning, the two hit it off and have a fun night together.

The next day Doug bumps into Jacob (Michael Nicklin), a rather dapper 50-year old gentleman. Witty conversation leads to more intimate relations and again Doug appears to find himself having a good time. But it isn't until later on that he awkwardly discovers that Jacob and Colton are actually father and son - and it appears that he sort of has feelings for both.

Now the central conflict of the movie focused on Doug and what he actually wants in life. And while this is going on, he continues to entertain both father and son as far as going on dates, taking trips and of course a lot of sleeping around. And while there are some nuances to each of their personalities, it almost feels like it does not matter who they are and it's all up to Doug.

But what becomes frustrating is that Doug isn't actually taking steps to figure things out. Instead he just goes on having fun, which may be generally realistic, but it doesn't make it any less annoying. I would still think that any regular guy would actually take more action to help him "choose", although why Jacob and Colton feel Doug should take the lead is a little beyond me. So I guess they get what they deserve in this regard.

Moving beyond this little quagmire in the middle of things, the rest of the movie isn't quite bad but isn't remarkable either. Acting is passable with both good and bad moments. The guys are relatively hot (which somehow still matters in these movies), although we are stuck in the stereotypes that gay men quaff wine by the case at any given moment.

The movie is described as a "fast-paced comedy", but I didn't necessarily feel that. Maybe it was the lack of musical scoring for most of the movie (which may more a trope for comedies than a necessity) or the lack of narrative progress as we wait for Doug to even just begin to make a decision about the two men in his life. Thankfully, they never have a threesome.

The Men Next Door had a theoretically funny premise but didn't really know where it wanted to take things. The central plot may be appreciated by others but it really just didn't work for me and it took a lot of the movie down with it. Thus I can only rate it as 2 odd conversations while naked out of a possible 5.