At first glance, the poster for Welcome to the Men’s Group looks like a crazy comedy where viewers might get a quick glance or two at a penis. While it takes some time to get to that point, the movie is so much more than just a bunch of naked men. It’s a deeply thought out exploration into many of the issues that plague most middle-aged men – marriage, divorce, affairs, business, family and more.
Veteran actors Timothy Bottoms (The Last Picture Show), Stephen Tobolowsky (The Goldberg’s) and David Clennon (The Thing) head the cast of this dramedy directed by and co-starring Joseph Culp, the son of actor Robert Culp.
It’s tells the story of a group of eight male friends who meet one Sunday every month to share their personal issues in a round table discussion. They refrain from beer, football and other manly pleasures to discuss these issues, with some regular routines involved. On this particular day, things do not go as planned when one member appears headed for a breakdown, and a long-standing conflict and secrets threaten to destroy the trust between them.
The movie is a bit of a role reversal on the feminist movement and shows that some of the traditional roles forced on men are just as stressful as they can be for their female counterparts. Masculine norms typically emphasize the importance of strength, endurance (physical and psychological), and competitiveness, while not allowing much room for failure. The movie shows the benefits of having a support group, even when times get tough.
The film is rather long on two counts. At 130 minutes it’s a bit drawn out, except for the last 30 minutes where the movie becomes really entertaining, but it’s also surprisingly lengthy when that aforementioned nude scene actually does come. It’s a lot more male nudity than most Hollywood films dare offer.
In that scene, Neil (Phil Abrams) goes a bit too far when the group breaks down and falls into physical fights, verbal arguments and total chaos. He decides that the best way to get over his anxiety is to strip in front of the guys and let them look at his penis. This doesn’t bode well with the group and the chaos instills. At this point, Neil snaps, strips down, covers himself in fertilizer and heads out into the street where he stands butt naked covered in fertilizer as cars drive by. The only way to get him to come in the house is to get all the men to agree to strip and partake in a ritual with him.
It’s an extremely funny scene that becomes a bit more uncomfortable as the penises flop around for what seems like an eternity – it becomes a case of more dicks than you can shake a stick at. Thankfully it ends when Larry’s (Bottom) daughter walks in on the group in an extremely funny scene.
Humour and penises aside, it’s an uplifting film that hopefully gets a few men shedding their armour and letting out their feelings before all hell breaks loose in their lives. It’s the type of film both men and women will enjoy and it’s about as deeply human as it gets.
Welcome to the Men’s Group is available on VOD from November 9 from Leomark Studios.
Cast: Timothy Bottoms, Joseph Culp, Stephen Tobolowsky, David Clennon, Mackenzie Astin, Ali Saam, Terence J. Rotolo, Phil Abrams
Director: Joseph Culp
Screenwriter-producers: Scott Ben-Yashar, Joseph Culp
Director of photography: Monty Rowan
Production designer: Spencer Brennan
Costume designer: Jane Mannfolk
Editor: Dan O’Brien
Music: Dan Radlauer