In the opening scene of Bros, the first gay studio-produced and theatrically released romcom, co-writer and star Billy Eichner makes the first of many meta jokes. His character Bobby Lieberman, a well-known gay podcaster and LGBTIA+ museum board member, tells his millions of followers that he “is not the person to write a gay rom-com.” This is preceded of course of an exasperated imagining of what straight people may want from a gay love story, including being “butt-fucked by Jason Mamoa” before a volcano erupts. Eichner and co-writer/director Nicolas Stoller (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) don’t give us that.
What they do give us is the charming queer version of what Stoller and Judd Apatow (also a producer of Bros), have been giving us for two decades. The everyman Bobby meets a shredded hottie, Aaron (Luke MacFarlane, Brothers and Sisters) in a nightclub, they flirt, Bobby tries to kiss him but Aaron pulls away. When something keeps him texting Bobby back, this push and pull tension filled will-they-won’t-they-but-they-will plays out onscreen.
Both Bobby and Aaron fumble to figure out how to make the relationship work. Aaron struggles with his idea of the future and how his masculinity and sexuality will play into that. Bobby’s success at the museum fluctuates and his own insecurities about being too infeminate derail their relationship, but overall, the plot of Bros is just like anyother Stoller/Apatow production.
The script does a lot of educating in order to keep straight people on board. You get little LGBTQIA history lessons scattered through out the film. While this seems obvious and slightly excessive, some of the best jokes come from this strategy. Lttle winks to pop culture from jabs at Caitlyn Jenner to the concept of a gay Night At the Museum exhibit, this really is one of the most hilarious scripts of the year.
Like most things with his name on it, Bros does suffer from the Apatow problem, meaning the pace lags at the 60% mark and is a little long winded. What I can appreciate is that every character in this film, including the straight ones, are played by LGBTIA identifying people. Pretty much any up and coming or established queer actor/comedian of note is cast somewhere in Bros. From Dot Marie Jones to Fire Island‘s Bowen Yang to Guy Branum to Rupaul’s Drag Race winner Symone, the film does a great job establishing an authentic gay community within the film’s world.
Though not for homophobes, Bros is a really accessible and genuinely funny mainstream romcom. One could argue that some moments are less meant for the gays and more for straight couples, but overall Eichner and Stoller have made a charming comedy they should take pride in.
Bros is playing in theaters. Watch the trailer below.