the men next doodr dvd box

The Men
Next Door

Guest House Films,

Rob Williams

Eric Dean,
Michael Nicklin,
Benjamin Lutz,
Heidi Rhodes.
Mark Cirillo,
Devon Michael

Christopher Schram

Unrated, 84 minutes

Three's a Crowd
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online December, 2012

the men next door

George Bernard Shaw once famously quipped that youth is wasted on the young. As my 50s flash before my eyes, I often find myself repeating that phrase – especially when I’m at the gym. Today’s culture is too obsessed with youth. Not just gay culture; though we are perhaps the worst offenders. If queer cinema is one of the mirrors we hold up to see our lives, those of us over 40 rarely see our reflections at all.

men next door

Which is one of the reasons that I liked writer/director Rob Williams’ new film, The Men Next Door, as much as I did. The Men Next Door, unlike most queer films, dares to explore intergenerational dating. This is a novel idea in itself but Williams adds an additional spin. Eric Dean stars as Doug, a single gay man who has just turned 40. He is dating two men; one is ten years older and the other is ten years younger. This comedy of errors comes with a unique twist – his two lovers turn out to be father and son.

Can you say…. awkward?

men next doorLet’s back up a minute. The film opens with a shot of a birthday cake – which our hero stabs with a large knife. Doug had planned to celebrate his 40th birthday with his closest friends but each one has bailed at the last minute. As he prepares to spend his birthday alone, opportunity suddenly knocks. A hunk, whom Doug first mistakes for a stripper, stands at his front door. His name is Colton and he is his new neighbor. Colton (Benjamin Lutz) is young, 30, and thinks Doug is hot. He spends the night and they enjoy an immediate connection.

But Doug is already seeing someone else. His name is Jacob (Michael Nicklin). Jacob is 50 and has recently come out. Doug likes them both and juggles the two boyfriends. Then he gets the shock of his life when he realizes that Jacob is Colton’s father. Oops. What to do? A wait and see approach is taken. Even though no one is comfortable with the situation, things continue as if nothing is amiss... kind of. Father and son competitions are to be expected, but this one reaches new levels when they both vie for the same man’s hand. Each wants Doug for himself, each doesn’t want to see the other get hurt, and Doug is unable to choose between them.

It reaches a head in the film’s funniest segment when Jacob brings Doug to his cabin for a quiet weekend. As the lovers chase each other to the bedroom, the outside door opens and Colton enters stage left. Depressed at being alone that weekend, he has decided to hang out at the cabin too. For awhile they keep just missing each other. And then the wild rumpus starts. This middle section is a masterpiece of comic timing; it’s funny even when you know what’s coming next. But then there’s some soul searching; words spoken express both happiness and sorrow. The actors make it very real and you feel for these guys.
men next door
Instead of giving us an out-and-out farce, this is a comedy with a heart. While it has its ample share of laughs, this is no mindless romcom. The characters have depth and their emotions wash over the viewer. I laughed and I cried. The Men Next Door could have been a silly romp; instead it logs mostly uncharted territory by displaying the dynamics of dating both a younger and an older man - without resorting to clichés or cheap laughs. Jacob isn’t looking for a “boy” - Doug is only 10 years younger - and Colton isn’t looking for a “daddy.” Doug has a lot in common with them both and the age differences don’t matter. If only they weren’t father and son.
The Men Next Door boasts a smart script and exceptional acting from each of the lead actors. The sparks are evident and their relationships believable. Audience empathy comes easily for all three protagonists. The painful situation is handled in a mature and intelligent manner. Humor is balanced with sadness. And biting truths.
men next doorBut this isn’t a soap opera and it never gets maudlin. Much comic relief is also supplied by the likable supporting cast - especially Doug’s straight, fraternal twin brother, Derek (Devon Michael Jones). Derek is a psychologist who finds his brother’s predicament hilarious. Their phone conversations, interspersed throughout, are amongst the film’s funniest scenes. I loved it when Derek asks Doug if he calls Jacob “daddy,” and then annoys him further by asking if Colton calls him “daddy.” When he learns about the cabin fiasco, Derek asks, “Can I use this as a case study for my patients?”
men next doorI also liked the attention paid to Jacob’s back story. Jacob always suspected that he was gay, and so did his wife, but he “did the right thing, ” got married when he knocked her up in college, and kept his family together until his kids grew up. Above all else, he doesn’t want to see his son hurt. Sacrifices must be made for your children and Jacob wants his son to be happy; his happiness us secondary. His nobility stands out among many shining moments.
men next doorThis is writer/director Rob Williams’ sixth film. I’ve eagerly followed his career for years and his output is impressive. Long Term Relationship (2006) was a charmer about two men who are perfect for each other in every way except that the sex sucks. Back Soon (2007) featured two straight men whose sudden attraction has roots in the supernatural (both starred Matthew Montgomery). A cabin full of vacationing gay friends populated 3 Day Weekend (2008), and a young man was forced to come out to his family on Christmas when his boyfriend showed up on the doorstep in Make The Yuletide Gay (2009). Role / Play (2010) featured Montgomery again, this time with his real-life partner, Steve Callahan, in a love story between two men on opposite sides of the ideological fence. Each featured attractive and talented casts, interesting scripts and good production values.

men next doorI haven’t reviewed for many months now and I feel good coming back with a film by one of my favorite queer filmmakers. The Men Next Door moves at a good clip and is never boring. The photography is pleasing, well composed, and the three leads are often artfully filmed in triangular compositions - usually with Doug at the center. The music is unobtrusive and there are no bad songs to pad out the film’s length. There is also abundant eye candy and two supporting actors go the Full Monty (so the movie has something for everyone). It is amusing without being rude and that is a good thing. The Men Next Door is romantic, it is funny, it is sweet and touching. And it’s a great date movie if you want to show off your sensitive side. Williams has delivered another winner.


More on Rob Williams;
Long Term Relationship
Back Soon
3 Day Weekend
Make The Yuletide Gay
Role / Play
Out To Kill