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Jack Palmer is a social worker whose job has taken precedence over his personal life. Mainly, his job is to help four mentally challenged men live regular lives in a home. They consist of: Norman, who works at a donut shop and has a thing for keys; Barry, who thinks he is a golf pro and doesn't communicate well with his father; Arnold, who is into all things Russian and has a habit of spending money; and Lucien, who is into Spider Man and must testify before the state senate. Jack wants to help them, but he also thinks it is time to move on with his life. The hard part is trying to say goodbye to the guys he cares about. Written by
Pat McCurry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wonderful film; but I'd REALLY like to see the play.
This Hallmark Hall Of Fame film lives up to its usual mark of excellence for the T.V. audiences. Based on a play by Tom Griffin ( which I have not yet seen), it describes the sometimes comedic, sometimes tragic lives of four men in a transitional home for those who cannot eke out a "normal" living due to psychiatric and/or developmental disabilities. Norman (Nathan Lane) is moderately mentally challenged, but has the demeanor of a 10 year old. Lucien (Courtney B. Vance) is severely developmentally disabled, and although he's perhaps in his late twenties, has a mind of a 4 year old. Arnold (Michael Jeter) is both mentally challenged and bipolar, which makes him an interesting, if not unstable character. Barry (Robert Sean Leonard) is a young man in his early to mid twenties, but has trouble dealing with reality due to his schizophrenia. At the helm of this fascinating ship of misfits is Jack (Tony Goldwyn) the social worker and the key to helping these men live as independently as possible. The relationships between these four men with special needs and the social worker with HIS special needs (a neglected marriage) are intertwined with various effect...sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful, but always moving. Although it is always difficult for the movie industry to portray any subject dealing with mental illness/developmental disability, this film does an above average job. However, I can't help but feel that too much material was squashed into the script, that the movie didn't "flesh out" the characters enough. Nathan Lane,though a comic genius and gifted actor, appeared to be a little too caricatured in his role. Courtney B. Vance was far and away the most realistic in his portrayal of the perennial child. Michael Jeter was funny, but he didn't have the essential qualities that a manic person would display on a consistent basis. Robert Sean Leonard is an astute actor, but failed to convince me that he suffered with schizophrenia. Tony Goldwyn was effective as the social worker who is co-dependent with his four charges, but never quite crystallized his sense of marital destruction towards his wife. Despite these shortcomings, "The Boys Next Door" rates as a top-notch film. If nothing else, this off-beat story will compel me to read or watch Griffin's play.
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