Starring: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, TS Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Diaz, Harvey Fierstein, Guy Branum, Jim Rash, Amanda Bearse, Miss Lawrence, Dot-Marie Jones, Jim Rash, and Bowen Yang
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Bros doesn’t exactly rewrite the rom-com or elevate the form in most senses, but its status as the first mainstream LGBTQ romantic comedy will certainly not be considered a waste. Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller’s hilarious script brings the rom-com back in full force, with all the tropes, humor, and heart it needs to be counted amongst the best of both the genre and Stoller’s other directorial efforts. It does overstay its welcome by a bit, but between Eichner’s surprisingly confident leading man energy and the soft vulnerabilities of Luke Macfarlane, it’s hardly an experience one is eager to cut short.
While I applaud a major studio for finally having the balls to make a queer rom-com, Bros is mostly a formulaic yawnfest. It doesn’t even try to do something new with the genre, seemingly content to be like other rom-coms but gay. It feels…lazy?...like a giant missed opportunity? Plus, I simply didn’t buy the titular bros as a couple due to their lack of chemistry. Billy Eichner’s rapid fire comedic stylings didn’t help either, as he never lets a joke sit long enough before moving on to the next one, many of which weren’t all that funny to begin with. Gotta say, “nah, bro….”
I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t love about Bros, and it was the absolute hardest I’ve laughed in a very long time. The one-liners are nonstop, and they rarely, if ever, missed. But that aside, it also provides a very sweet rom-com at the heart of it all, and at the center of that heart are truly wonderful performances by Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane. Their chemistry is so hard to root against, not to mention the interesting view of the LGBTQ community, both past and present. This is the kind of studio comedy we need more of.
While I don't want to downplay the importance of Bros as it pertains to progress for LGBTQ film, I just didn't find it that funny. The jokes range from stereotypical to worthy of a minor chuckle, and the ones that do work are often spoken over by star Billy Eichner before they get a chance to land. This actually works better as a love story than a comedy, as the romance between the leads has a modern day sweetness to it. But even then, Bros was a film with every chance to be unique, yet for the most part, it falls into tired rom-com clichés.
Bros is the cinematic manifestation of Billy Eichner. It’s a purposeful, laugh-out-loud, stream-of-consciousness scene dump that wraps a whole lot of randomness around a really sweet story. Its staccato pacing moves from club scene, to crass one-liner, to sex scene, to LGBTQ+ history lesson, to sex scene, to rom-com montage, to heartfelt monologue, back to sex scene. Born from this chaos is a mixture of simple, straightforward dialogue, hilariously awkward moments, and engaging characters. But that’s Eichner’s appeal - he’s simultaneously unique, brash, blunt, and warm, and he imbues this movie with every bit of that abrasive charm.
This film was reviewed by Nick, Quentin, and Adriano as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.