Bros is a romantic comedy like most others you’ve seen in the past few decades, but what sets itself apart comes from how this is the first film released by a major studio to feature an almost entirely LGBTQ+ cast for a wide theatrical release. This is the one aspect about Bros that gets touted most, especially by its director Nicholas Stoller and co-writer/star Billy Eichner, but to a certain point you can clearly tell that this is something getting to Eichner’s own head. Yet there’s still much to love about how Eichner and company care about how they want this film to provide a voice for gay viewers within mainstream film, and on that end, Bros is very cute all around.
Eichner stars as Bobby Lieber, a podcast host and museum curator for the upcoming LGBTQ+ Museum in New York. Bobby considers himself very self-reliant, compared to many of his other friends, but all this changes upon his first encounter with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), where he experiences love at first sight as they hit things off, by commenting on their experience dating vapid gay men around themselves. While there’s nothing story-wise that seems like it would set it apart from your typical 90’s romantic comedy beyond the characters being mostly gay, where Nicholas Stoller and Billy Eichner nail down the charm that still allows such movies to work as well as they do.
There’s a lot to love about how the film plays out as we’re seeing Eichner and Macfarlane sharing intimate moments with one another, but the one thing about Eichner’s own Bobby Lieber that jumps right at you is the fact that he seems so much louder than everyone else around him, and thus it plays a part in why he’s also the loneliest of his own friends, who still care deeply for him. To a certain extent, this becomes very grating, especially within the latter half of the film, but you can still feel him growing within the sense that he wants to change for the better – for even Eichner and Stoller seem aware of him not strictly being the most likable of lead characters.
While the film is often very funny, there’s also a certain extent to which you feel that the length can be trimmed down. This isn’t unusual for a film produced by Judd Apatow, and Apatow’s own love for improvisation has a habit of dragging out the length of anything he works on to a near two-hour mark. As one could expect, these moments are funny, but it’s easy to feel how much of these ultimately drag the length of the film to some noticeably grinding halts. And the good lot of jokes tend to land, although it can’t be helped but felt that some of the jokes that target representation of queer people in cinema, whether it be your expected jab at films like Brokeback Mountain or more recently The Power of the Dog that feel stereotypical at best – moving further away from the supposed specificity that could target queer viewers.
Even then, I think that’s my main issue with Bros – while it certainly is commendable that a big studio would give the green light to a film that would feature a majority LGBTQ+ cast, the fact that it still feels made not with those audiences in mind does hamper its own ambitions to an extent. Which I don’t think should be a bad thing, but it’s also a bit too clean especially as this was a film that was made to be a big moment for the LGBTQ+ community. Yet you can’t help but feel like the same audience that always roots for an Apatow-produced comedy would be bound to like this regardless, especially because it does often feel sanitized for the sake of mainstream appeal.
Regardless, I can’t deny that there were many moments here that made me smile – because of the first that they represent for mainstream queer representation. While there’s a whole pantheon of great queer cinema that I think Bros ends up falling short of, to see that it’s become a gateway for some (even though queer cinema is more accessible than ever) is at least commendable. Eichner and company have their heart in the right place, especially when it comes to forming a romantic comedy that feels just like all the best ones you can name from the late 80’s or early 90’s, but like those movies, all the best bits are more than guaranteed to make you laugh. I feel the same can be said for most viewers, too.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Universal.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Screenplay by Billy Eichner, Nicholas Stoller
Produced by Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller, Joshua Church
Starring Billy Eichner, Harvey Fierstein, Luke Macfarlane, Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Guy Branum, Amanda Bearse, Jim Rash, Bowen Yang, Eve Lindley, Symone
Release Date: September 30, 2022
Running Time: 115 minutes