A sleeper delight, “Fourth Man Out” centers around a closeted average Joe whose best buds first bridle, then rally around him when he decides to come out on his 24th birthday. This thoroughly ingratiating, touchingly heartfelt comedy doesn’t have marquee names or an attention-grabbing hook, but hopefully its sheer likability will grab some deserved niche theatrical and home-format attention.
Lanky, unassuming Adam (Evan Todd) is an upstate New York garage mechanic who spends most of his off hours hanging out with longtime best friend, Chris (Parker Young). Alongside mates Ortu (Jon Gabrus) and Nick (Chord Overstreet, “Glee”), they form an inseparable quartet dedicated in classic heterosexual bro fashion to the pursuit of sports, beer, chicks and gay jokes. Only trouble is, Adam (who’s actually dated women in the past) is gay, and figures it’s finally time to break the news to his buddies. After a drunken night’s birthday celebration, he does so. Chris tries to be cool about it, none too successfully; the others are haplessly frank in their bafflement.
Customary all-guy activities like poker night and hockey match-watching turn highly awkward, newly fraught with “Is he hot for me?” tension. But when an upmarket girl (Jennifer Damiano) whom Chris scores a date with is appalled by his insensitivity toward his bestie’s coming out, the dudes get a wake-up call. Realizing they need to be more caring about their friend, the three aggressively study-up on “gay stuff” in order to counsel him on his tumbleweeds-rolling-across-the-desert love life. These crude but well-intentioned efforts climax in an endearingly funny scene in which Chris, Nick and Ortu drag Nick off to (somewhat improbably) his first gay bar, where everybody has a great time.
Nicely woven-in subplots encompass Brooke Dillman as a judgmentally pious, nosy neighbor; Jordan Lane Price as Chris’ horribly shallow regular bedmate-but-not-girlfriend; Doug Moe as the creepiest of many bad Internet dates Adam meets up with; and Nick Clark as a garage customer who’s a potential Mr. Right for our hero. But the core of Aaron Dancik’s astutely judged screenplay is the relationship between Adam and Chris, a best-friendship that always feels genuine despite the challenges it endures.
Though there’s the occasional too-broad moment (notably a misfired sequence in which Adam blows a date with a nice guy by farting during their makeout session), mostly the humor here is so organic you might suspect that the excellent cast improvised half their lines on the spot. (A final-credits sequence of bloopers and outtakes does nothing to erase that impression.) Nor could Andrew Nackman’s first feature (following award-winning short “Paulie”) be any more assured or deft, handling material tonally reminiscent of Raymond De Felitta’s 2009 indie-comedy sleeper supreme, “City Island.” Tech/design contributions are sharp.