It could be said that failure is the cornerstone to any good comedy, regardless of whether or not the protagonist is eventually able to meet their goal the humor is mostly derived from their repeated attempts to try. Understanding this fact and channeling the spirit of Wes Anderson the Varava brothers Justin and Jared have crafted a winning and infectious comedy revolving around the modest quest of William (Lucas Fleischer) who aspires to win the 4×100 relay with his teammates and best friends Hank (Siaka Massaquoi) and Champ (Riel Paley) despite the fact their team needs a vital fourth member.
Knowing that the San Fernando games are only weeks away and that their prime competition, the Swedish team consisting of the cocky Stryder brothers, are in peak form, William, Hank and Champ put out flyers advertising for the fourth man which will help transform the modest trio into the relay team of William’s dreams. As the days go by and no prospective new teammates appear the teams loyalties will be tested as Hank begins to doubt their mission. “The Fourth” is able to succeed in much the same way films such as “Harold and Maude” and “Napoleon Dynamite” do, relying on the quirkiness of the characters along with a straightforward non-ironic handling of the material to provide the laughs.
The Varava brothers show great promise with this short which is witty, well made and just the right length. Much like Owen Wilson’s Dignan from “Bottle Rocket” Lucas Fleischer is able to effectively communicate William’s enthusiasm despite the fact he is fighting for a bizarre pipe dream and is surrounded by a similarly eager, effective cast. William’s very pregnant wife Faith (Hope Taylor) is unwavering in her support for her husband, she doesn’t bat an eye when he makes her leave the room because the gyro she’s eating is too tempting to his no carb diet and seems to share his own sense of optimism because she loves him and that’s what you do when you’re in love. Hank remembers better days such as the one time he graced the cover of a running magazine back in 1997 and worries about his back problems. And Champ…well Champ just seems happy to be there.
“The Fourth” is a amusing, humble comedy about a few days in the lives of some dreamers, sure their dream might not mean much and may be entirely out of their grasp but in telling the tale the Varava brothers have made a short film worth smiling about.