Review by James Lindorf
We’ve all heard the jokes about how Rom-Coms are the bane of the straight man’s existence. They are treated as two hours of suffering for you and two hours of visual foreplay for them. Well, buckle in straights because Rom-Coms just came out of the closet with Billy Eichner’s “Bros.” Universal Pictures is giving the Romantic Comedy a wide release on September 30th.
Best known for Funny or Die’s “Billy on the Street,” Eichner is expanding his horizons by starring in, producing, and co-writing “Bros.” New to this level of filmmaking, Eichner wanted to bring in a couple of established Hollywood names. First, he partnered with the film’s director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), on the script. Then fellow Funny or Die alum and comedy icon Judd Apatow was brought in as a producer to help guide the project to mainstream success.
Eichner stars as Bobby, a staple of the New York LGBTQ+ community thanks to hosting a top-rated podcast. Bobby transitioned that success into a directorship of the first museum in the country that is focused on LGBTQ+ history. Bobby loves his people but has grown disillusioned with the hookup culture. Still, the only thing he finds more off-putting is the idea of a committed relationship. When asked why he avoids monogamy like the plague, Billy tells a group of friends, “I don’t trust gay men. I am one, which is why I don’t trust them.” Bobby’s world is thrown for a loop when he meets the intelligent and incredibly hot Aaron, played by Luke MacFarlane (Killjoys). The two flirt while dancing around their mutual distaste and fear of relationships while spending more and more time together until the inevitable happens and they become a couple. From there, it is a race to see who will get in their own way first and implode the newfound happiness.
The best thing about “Bros” is that it is the same but different. It is like eating your favorite meal that was made with different spices. It is comforting and familiar, but it also feels fresh and special. Going into “Bros,” I was apprehensive because I was not a fan of Eichner’s comedy style. I find it too frantic and loud to be enjoyable. Bobby isn’t really that different from the typical Eichner persona, but he has the calming presence of MacFarlane to even out the film. The pair have great chemistry, which helps you feel the love in the story and root for a happy conclusion.
The jokes fly fast and furious in “Bros,” and no one is safe. Bobby has Eichner’s trademark acerbic wit and even takes on the queer-culture gap between generations when he laments that “we got AIDS, they got Glee. “Thankfully, he always acknowledges how he had it better than those before him, which makes it inclusive and not bitter rantings. The best recurring joke is the film’s take on Hallmark and their incredible number of Christmas films and their lack of inclusivity with Hallheart. Thankfully this year, Hallheart has options like a “Holly Poly Christmas.”
One of the shortcomings of “Bros” is that it could have been a little shorter. There is a reason most Rom-Coms clock in around 90 minutes instead of 115. The first thing on the chopping block would be Bobby’s constant claims that Aaron could never be attracted to him. It happens so often it is exhausting, and at least one instance should have been removed. The next moment that should have been reworked is an entirely unnecessary Garth Brooks-inspired musical number near the climax. It felt like something from a completely different film. It gives the impression it was added late in production because Eichner remembered he had a good voice or as a favor to a songwriter friend.
Another misstep was having its characters work to open a history museum while sharing very few LGBTQ+ facts. Instead, they focus on speculation about Lincoln and others being a part of the community. It would have been better to tell undeniable facts instead of rumors that only existed to set up the movie’s most underwhelming jokes.
Ultimately, “Bros” is precisely what the Rom-Com genre needed. It is funny, heartfelt, and sexy, all without feeling like a copy and paste of 100 other movies. No one will confuse “Bros” with any other entry in the genre, and it has less to do with starring two men than with the quality of their story. “Bros” is a solid 4.5 out of 5 and is the perfect counter-programming as we move into the Halloween season.
Rating: R (Strong Sexual Content|Some Drug Use|Language Throughout)
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Lgbtq+
Original Language: English
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Producer: Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller, Joshua Church
Writer: Nicholas Stoller, Billy Eichner
Release Date: September 30th, 2022
Runtime: 1h 55m
Distributor: Universal Pictures
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