TIFF 2022: BROS Is A Wonderful New Gay Rom-Com That Satirizes And Celebrates The Genre
Bros is comedian Billy Eichner’s big feature film screenwriting debut. Co-writing the script with Nicholas Stoller, who also directs, Eichner took it upon himself to create a gay romantic comedy that satires and celebrates the genre at the same time. And as ambitious as all this sounds, Bros as a romantic comedy works beautifully. The movie is everything that it sets out to be; intensely funny, sweet, charming, and highly emotional, connecting with the audience on a different level. While the LGBTQ+ representation is in full swing, it’s never preachy, and the jokes are never at the expense of that community. As is commonplace in Hollywood, which the movie even references multiple times. Bros knows exactly it wants to be and as such, excels at it. Which is elevating the romantic comedy to something more than just a guilty pleasure. Read on for my spoiler-free Bros movie review.
Bros Is An All-Out Comedy With A Compelling Emotional Downturn
Bros is all about Bobby Leiber, a famous gay rights activist, podcaster, author, and all-around expert when it comes to LGBTQ+ history. However, he hasn’t ever had a meaningful relationship due to his own personal issues with commitment. But it’s not so cut and dry. As Bobby points out, the gay rom-com is not like the straight rom-com. The lives, the love, the sex and the people involved are drastically different between the gays and straights. And the differences are very clearly outlined in Bros.
Now given it is a rom-com, there are some cliched elements. Of course, Bobby meets someone. Of course, they’re perfect for one another. But of course, there is conflict despite it all. But within this formula, the sequence of events, the characterizations and individual drama are miles apart from the traditional rom-com. Screenwriters Eichner and Stoller create something here that is just more than a romantic comedy. It’s also about coming to terms with oneself, how the world perceives you, and how to get over letting any of it affect your happiness. All of it told through an LQBTQ+ lens. I told you it was more than meet-cutes and faux orgasms over dinner.
Just Who Is This Bros Movie For, Anyways?
Despite being a gay romantic comedy, Bros is a movie that can everyone can enjoy universally. Its message and themes are something that can appeal to everyone. However, it is a rated R movie, so maybe don’t take your kids to it. Or do, I don’t want to tell you how to parent.
As a full-on comedy, the first two acts of Bros is nonstop joke and punchline. It’s almost a rapid-fire round of set-up-joke-punchline. For fans of Billy Eichner’s brand of lightning-quick rants and angry raves, Bros will be a fan favourite. But if that style of comedy isn’t your thing, you might want to temper expectations. There are parts of Bros where it’s just pop culture references, shade or digs aimed at someone or something. I can see how that type of humour might not be for everyone, and might not even age well in a few years.
But Bros makes up for with that an emotional story at its core about self-acceptance, identity, self-love and showcasing a side of LGBTQ+ representation that isn’t tragic or attempting to appeal to the straights. There are no Oscar-bait moments of melodrama. It’s a very realistic portrayal of gay men, finding love, having sex and dealing with their issues and coming together. In that sense, Bros is raw, unapologetic and completely aware of the story it’s telling, without worrying about who it’s telling it to.
Disclaimer: This Bros Movie Review Comes From A Cis Straight Man
Full disclosure: I am a Cis straight man. Usually, I wouldn’t bring this up, but in the context of this Bros movie review, I need to say it. And this is because, as Leiber points out in the opening moments of the movie, gay love stories, aren’t like straight love stories. And having never been exposed to a gay rom-com, at least not in a non-homogenized, watered-down way anyways, I learned a lot from Bros.
But even more importantly, the movie works for me because you don’t have to suspend disbelief of the convenient plot points or turn off the logic center of your brain to enjoy it. As I would usually do with the more traditional, mass market rom-com. You don’t have to excuse iffy writing, for the sake of the charm of the movie. And it’s also not the new-age LGBTQ+ love stories we’ve been getting recently that just transplant straight characters with gay ones while keeping everything else the same. A realization I would never have had, had it not been for Bros.
Especially when the characters’ sexuality is a huge part of any romantic comedy. Differences in sexuality and lifestyle will of course dictate how the stories play out. And that’s really where Bros separates itself from the more superfluous LGBTQ+ love stories out there right now.
The Cast Of Bros Is Hilarious
Besides the story and direction, it’s also Bros’ insanely funny cast that bolsters this movie. Eichner plays Bobby in his own trademark voice of sardonic, sarcastic and angrily excited. It’s brilliant and adds so much depth to his character. But what’s even more interesting, is when Eichner gets dramatic. The sadness that he infuses within Bobby is surprising and showcases Eichner’s dramatic chops. Luke Macfarlane as Bobby’s love interest is great! Despite being a hunk of a man, Macfarlane plays his character with great range and really surprises the audiences with a roller coaster of a performance.
The supporting cast of Bros is even more brilliant. Forming Bobby’s LGBTQ+ committee at work are Jim Rash (Community), Dot-Marie Jones, Eve Lindley, Miss Lawrence & TS Madison. As the group painstakingly plan the opening of the first LGBTQ+ museum, the conversations often veer off into seeking individual representation and focusing on the other letters in their community. With hilarious results. The difference is that the comedy here is with love for the community, by those of the community. The movie even has its token straight couple who hang out with Bobby and friends. They’ve thought of everything!
Bros Movie Review Conclusion
Bros is an R-rated gay romantic comedy that doesn’t hold anything back, or water anything down to appeal to the 4-quadrant market. The movie comes from a major studio, with the principal cast being entirely of LGBTQ representation. It’s not going to be for everyone, based on its style of humour and comedy. But it’s definitely a very enjoyable watch that also doesn’t burden itself with too much seriousness. And while some will learn a lot from the movie, it’s not a message or social commentary driven film. It’s a pure comedy, a great one, and should be experienced as such.
Bros had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022.
Bros releases everywhere on September 30, 2022.
Did you get a chance to check out Bros at TIFF 22? If not, are you excited for this new type of gay romantic comedy? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @theshahshahid.