Welcome To The Men’s Group

A bunch of overgrown boys have a monthly man meeting to sit around grunting and eating meat. This time, Larry (Timothy Bottoms) is hosting at his beautiful, newly completed house. His mentally unstable wife is missing but after years of being her caretaker, he keeps that information secret as he hosts his friends.

Friends? Is that the right word? At times they hardly seem to know or like each other, and don’t often meet up socially outside the monthly meetings. The men’s group is very serious. It even has a manifesto, usually recited to a beating drum. It promises all kinds of things, but most if not all of those things are broken in this one meeting that I’ve witnessed, so it’s hard to say

The men’s meeting is assembled: Michael (Joseph Culp) is a recovering sex addict and likes to control the meetings. He’s brought along Tom (Mackenzie Astin), a men’s meeting newb and insecure stay at home dad who not everyone is receptive to. Neil (Phil Abrams) is a weirdo hippie with a rat tail who talks on the phone with Mohammed’s wife. Mohammed (Ali Saam) is a restaurateur with a bone to pick with Neil. Fred (David Clennon) is an old guy about to move in with his girlfriend and lose his freedom. Eddie (Terence J. Rotolo) is a macho healthnut war veteran about to become a father, and he’s terrified, but more comfortable criticizing everyone else. And Carl. Oh Carl. Carl (Stephen Tobolowsky) is in the throes of a serious meltdown. His wife has left him, all his get-rich-quick schemes have failed, and now he’s wondering if setting himself on fire isn’t the best way out.

No matter their intentions, these men are horrible at supporting each other. A mixed bag of divas and dicks, the men’s group is the opposite of a support group, more like a trigger-each-other and fist-fight group. Everyone brings shit to the table but tensions only escalate as they “check in” and discuss them.

This is the kind of movie where literally, they just sit around and talk. That’s it. So if you can’t handle that. If you’re not up for The Big Chill-My Dinner with Andre-Book Club for men, with less wine and no literacy, well, it’s not for you.

Welcome To The Men’s Group is a complex ensemble comedy that often fails to be funny. It sometimes succeeds in being both sexist and homophobic. And occasionally it even gets something right. But it’s overlong and felt to me more like a chore than a fun way to spend time. Not everyone will want or be able to spend quality time with this bunch of jackoffs, so consider this a healthy, full-frontal warning.

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