I gotta hand it to movies in 2022. I’ve spent a large part of this year telling everyone how much I don’t really care for horror, and then proceeded to write a laundry list of positive reviews for countless outings. I don’t think romcoms need that kind of resurgence. The ones that tend to win over my cold, bro-heart have to be special and REALLY funny for consideration. Luckily, “Bros” is both, delivering tons of laughs as well a memorable. I can see people re-watching this romcom for ages.
You can feel the authenticity of its creators. All of whom seem deeply connected to the story and truly attempting to do something no one has really done. By using all the things that countless people have done before they succeed in telling a good queer story. Romcoms often work best when they’re more self aware than self serving. “Bros” strikes just the right balance to be for queer people by queer people, while also being for everyone. “Bros” is hilarious and heartfelt. It simultaneously satirizes the romcom tropes while also leaning into them. “Bros” is going to be one of the best of its kind this year.
Billy Eichner (who also stars) partnered with Nicholas Stoller as a co-writer and director. “Bros” follows the classic romcom format when stripped down to its barebones. Bobby is a successful podcast host who is given the opportunity to lead and curate the first even LGBTQ+ Museum in New York. Out, Loud, and proud, Bobby is a mile a minute fact machine who is constantly criticizing his own community. Especially when it comes to the clichés, with biting wit and snarky historical gay fact checking. He is very much the working girl, one who “doesn’t need no man.” Bobby has built his life all on his own merits without the aid of a partner.
His outward vibe is he’s emotionally unavailable and perfectly fine with his single, Grindr life. That is, until he meets Aaron who is an incredibly attractive. Aaron has a lot going for him. He loves Crossfit, sports, Garth Brooks and the film “Hangover.” He’s also a lawyer so he’s got his life together. You can probably map out the rest of the story from there; two unlikely, “I’m not looking for a relationship” people from opposite ends of life collide, fall in love, encounter challenges, and discover that they needed each other all along. Classic, tried and true romcom story.
Where “Bros” really shines is in its tricky balance of both executing the very tropes it wants desperately to make fun of. It also recognizes that it is breaking new ground without losing sight of telling a good, meaningful story. This his harder than the success of “Bros” would have you believe. Eichner is quite literally making a love story for everyone that is specifically about and for his own community. Pulling both off at the same time while maintaining its own integrity of shattering its stereotypes. Make no mistake, “Bros” is absolutely a gay romcom. As such it goes above and beyond to showcase the differences between queer and heterosexual relationships. Bobby very early on expresses how you can’t simply impose one on the other. To a smaller extent he seeks to demonstrate how the blueprint can be maintained. He does this while also paving the way for new ground. “Bros” is a romcom that knows it. It is this self awareness that allows it relish in the very clichés it delights in mocking.
Eichner plays Bobby with a sense of autobiographical connection, portraying a confident, unapologetic man who still struggles. Despite its mile a minute commentary, it shows Bobby still has pain from the things that shaped him. Bobby, like most of us, wrestles with imposter syndrome. He delivers some truly impactful and vulnerable moments that speak to the fallacy that we have it all figured out. There’s a particularly fantastic monologue from Eichner on the beach, which starts out as the typical wordsmith bravado and slowly transitions into all the burdens he carries. The burdens that cause him to use his faux-confidence and loud mouth as a shield from never being hurt again. On paper, this is classic romcom character building, but “Bros” is smart enough to elevate the simplicity. Eichner is really funny and more complex than his romcom trope would have you believe.
Luke McFarlane as Aaron is the standout in “Bros.” He is charming and reserved, but comes alive when paired with Eichner, with whom he shares real chemistry. Aaron is the opposite of Bobby in that he has everything in the world to be confident about but isn’t. He also struggles with himself and who he wants to be. Both men are searching for something but don’t know it. Through each other they uncover their own lies they often tell themselves. “Bros” explores the idea that coming out isn’t the end, and that there’s more to yourself than just that moment. McFarlane brings depth to an otherwise shallow character, and also displays some pretty solid comedic timing that plays well. The chemistry between the two pays off and delivers lots of laughs. “Bros” once again strikes a balance with its leads. It’s the cookie cutter romcom outline but lets both Eichner and McFarlane goes as deep and complex as they want.
“Bros” is a lot of things all at once, and largely gets all of them right. It doesn’t work if we aren’t bought in to the couple it’s trying to ship us. And it certainly doesn’t work if it doesn’t get the representation right. Even if it wants to sharply criticize itself in doing so. “Bros” does all of this, and makes for a very funny, very heartfelt, and very well made romcom. It knows what it is and what it wants to be, and knows what we expect from it. It is never above taking jabs at its own community. While also acknowledging the genre and media machine that has long been a road block for them. Hell, “Bros‘” unrelenting parody of the Hallmark Channel’s pretending to be diverse.
As a last point, it is important to know that “Bros” is unabashedly queer. Sometimes explicitly so. It has earned its R rating not just with foul mouthed humor but also a few explicit sex scenes. These aren’t any different than any other R rated romcom featuring a heterosexual couple. But, it could be somewhat off putting for those that aren’t as open or understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s played for laughs most of the time, and it is raucously funny. But it will test the limits of your ally claims by being upfront, honest, and unashamed. It’s enough to make Fox News have a meltdown, and enough to make Tucker Carlson’s head explode with gayness. I’m all here for that, and I’m here for “Bros” refusing to compromise. Because its able to show a love that is hardly seen on TV. I will give you a sort of heads up in case you weren’t sure how far it goes. “Bros” goes as far as Universal lets them, and proudly shares its truths with the big screen.
“Bros” is a breakthrough, and achieves everything it sets out to do. It is groundbreaking in some ways and perfectly predictable in others. That balance really makes the film something special and memorable. You will laugh, you will cry, and ya, you’ll fall in love even if you swear you don’t want to. And yes, your girlfriend (or romcom loving partner) will absolutely add it to the list of rewatchable romcoms. Luckily for those of us that hate most of them, we can all enjoy “Bros” together this time.
Yeah bro- “Bros” is pretty great, bro. You should definitely see “Bros,” bro.
“Bros” is now playing in theaters. You can watch the trailer below.