If you’re like me and had a rough last week and needed some way off feeling relaxed and laughing your ass off, then it’s a good thing we have Bros. Out of all the major studio comedies set to release in theaters this year, all my attention was on the latest romantic comedy from director/co-writer Nicholas Stoller since it was first announced. But Bros is a big deal mainly because this happens to be the first gay rom-com from a major studio (Universal Pictures). And we’ve had some in the past few years that’ll be classics, such as Love, Simon and Happiest Season, respectively. Though it’s something special to have a film not only have an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast (even in the straight roles), but one everybody should go out to see one of the most memorable and sweetest rom-coms for years to come.
In the film, Bobby Lieber (Billy Eichner) is a 40-year-old successful podcaster and a curator trying to finally open the first-ever national LGBTQ+ history museum in New York City. However, he and his community are having a tough time coming up with the final exhibit. He’s the kind of man who doesn’t see himself tied down by relationships; he’s fine being a single cis-white gay man who enjoys hooking up with random guys from Grindr. While attending a nightclub to launch a new dating app for gay men (Zellweger), Bobby meets Aaron Shepard (Luke Macfarlane), a jocky lawyer that has them hitting off at first, despite being the opposite of Bobby. Still, both know they’re not the commitment type of people. That’s the start of a relationship that could only grow stronger for the first time in both lives.
When Bros was over, the biggest question I had in the back of my mind was, how are we getting this now instead of ten years ago? I’m always a sucker for a good rom-com that I feel comfortable watching alone. They’re what I need to know I’m capable of finding love. And this is one we don’t see too much on the big screen anymore, if you think about it. So can they be pretty predictable within the storytelling? Absolutely, and this is no different. However, I can stay attached if you have relatable enough characters and it does here. Just thought this would be a classic sendup of the genre for gay and straight relationships we tend to come across and it shows the many challenges we all go through in the dating scene.
And with Stoller co-writing a sharp script with Eichner, they present us with a worthy and authentic boy-meets-boy premise that doesn’t lean one side or the other to make a crucial point. It deals with how anyone can see through other’s walls and what makes all of us different. It can have fun with itself in focusing on a gay couple, but still know how to be touching when the time calls for it. It’s more than just following the people with typical commitment issues and putting together the differences in what makes us who we are in our upbringings. Probably the closest movie to relate to is When Harry Met Sally… for the next generation.
Billy Eichner taking on the lead role was exciting because I’ve been waiting for a movie showcasing the comedian’s talent outside of his series Billy on the Street or being one of the few positive qualities about the disappointing Lion King remake. But it’d be impossible not to fall for his character Bobby, a refreshing protagonist with a charming wit to his persona that wasn’t just Eichner playing himself but gave off a nice enough range in both comedic and dramatic departments. And I wasn’t familiar with Luke Macfarlane besides learning he’s the face of multiple Hallmark Channel holiday movies. His performance as the more reserved Aaron makes for a great first impression as a character who realizes he doesn’t want to be boring, sitting through an unsatisfying job and longs for a passion he has had since childhood. These two had that excellent chemistry with each other, where you eventually just want them to be together amidst any obstacles.
But when a movie makes me laugh in the first two minutes, I know I’d be in for a great time. Of course, I wished I was in a theater with a packed audience laughing up a storm, but my showing at noon on a Saturday was only another guy who sat in the same row and me. Though I was definitely doing the heavy lifting of the laughing, and the jokes didn’t let me down, considering Stoller’s comedic background is responsible for Forgetting Sarah Marshall (one of my all-time favorite comedies) and the underrated Neighbors. This was the hardest I laughed in a while where the jokes were more consistent than I thought in poking fun at gay culture or anything regarding the genre to only come from a movie like Bros. There’s a cameo from Debra Messing that killed me about her getting tired of hearing gay men ask her for advice because she was on Will & Grace. And giving nothing away, I’ll say Bobby telling a story about a play he went to as a kid got the loudest reaction from a repeated phrase he says. Even the moments where it features man-on-man sex didn’t make me feel uncomfortable for an R-rating.
Yes, it succeeds at being funny without being offensive, but it caught me by surprise how this got a heart to make anyone feel good about themselves. Some amazing emotional scenes almost resonated with me about how it’s tough to get close to someone in a chance of changing their life. Sometimes I feel okay being independent, while other times, I don’t know to be with anyone who’ll be unfaithful. And it says so much about finding a passion in life that you feel like yourself, being perfectly fine being different. And it’s a story that’s touching for everybody. There’s a monologue Eichner is saying while talking to Macfarlane on a beach that I loved which included this line about confidence that I can’t remember at the top of my head, but it’s a quote I need now more than ever.
It might feel a tad long since it’s a Judd Apatow production that could’ve been ten minutes shorter, but I was surprised by how engaged I was throughout. But if you’re searching for a feel-good movie that doesn’t feel it needs to have a depressing ending, this is worth everything in the world. We’ve been seeing tons of original films in theaters recently, and let me assure you, this one needs your support if we want more comedies like this later on.
Overall, Bros is one of the funniest films of the year! Not only did it bring the raunchy humor, but it’s the right kind of mainstream rom-com brimming with confidence and heart that I couldn’t resist. Anchored by Eichner & Macfarlane with their performances and chemistry, it’s an old-fashioned love story I can’t wait to sit through again.
Bros is now playing in theaters nationwide. Runtime: 115 Minutes. Rated R for strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use. Studio: Universal Pictures.