I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Give me one that’s just fine, and I’ll eat it up. Give me a couple of laughs and a couple of feel good moments, and you’ve earned your movie at least three stars. But go above and beyond that and add emotional honesty and consistent, genuine laughs, and you have one of the best studio comedies since the advent of the streaming wars. Yes, I’m talking about Bros.
Billy Eichner is probably best known for being loud and flamboyant on Parks and Recreation and on his show, Billy on the Street. He plays it so well, and I love him for it. But Bros is now easily the best thing he’s done. Eichner produces, co-writes, and stars in this gay romcom about two men who don’t want a relationship, but enter into one anyway. And coming from the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Neighbors, Nicholas Stoller, Bros is hilarious, and probably his best work as well.
The main thing I need to highlight about Bros is its emotional honesty, most, if not all, of which comes from Eichner as the star and co-writer. This film isn’t just about two men entering into a relationship. In a lot of ways, it’s a meta commentary on the fact that this is the first gay romcom of its time, and it does double duty as a history and sociology lesson. But it doesn’t fall into the potential pitfalls of such a groundbreaking film. It could easily have hit you over the head and preached at you, but it’s the honesty that grounds it. This feels like 40-plus years of pent up feelings finally being brought out for Eichner, and their release is a relief, as opposed to a lecture.
His character, Bobby, is a famous New York City podcaster, who’s simultaneously trying to launch an LGBTQ+ museum in the middle of NYC, and who’s never been in love, but insists he doesn’t want a relationship, and that he’s happy being unhappy. But of course, that’s not true for anyone. When he meets Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) at the club, Bobby is forced to reassess his position. Aaron is a man’s man who’s effortlessly masculine, while Bobby (who’s basically a slightly toned-down version of Eichner’s persona) is not. They don’t seem like a match, but there’s something within each of them that makes them just right for each other. Your typical romcom stuff.
Where Bros really sets itself apart, though, is in its effortlessness. It hits every single beat you’d expect from a rom com, and embraces every trope, but it doesn’t matter. It works in lessons on the history of the LGBTQ+ community seamlessly because you can tell it’s important to the filmmakers. All the while, it gives the characters depth, allowing them to be mined for comedy and messages about embracing who you are because you’re you.
Some movies seem to be obsessed with showing you how progressive they are. Do Revenge is a recent example of this. But thanks to the age and maturity of its characters, progressiveness and a deep understanding of what it means to live as a queer person in modern American society is built into this movie’s DNA. This adds a certain maturity to Bros to make it stand above your typical romcom. The film is aware that it’s breaking new ground, but it also doesn’t want every subsequent gay romcom to be about their own significance. It strongly advocates for awareness and early education on these topics in some emotionally and intellectually effective scenes.
Bobby is clear about how he sorted out his lot in life decades ago, and that he’s put his head down and dealt with it. Him running a successful podcast and opening a significant museum is the equivalent of Eichner creating a successful show and starring in a significant movie. Both Bobby and Eichner almost feel like they’re playing with house money, and now just want things to be better for the people coming out after them, both young and old. I have no other way to describe it than to repeat that it’s emotionally honest in the most beautiful and hilarious way.
You can’t help but smile and feel warm about Bros. Through and through, it’s easily one of the most life-affirming movies to come out this year. It acknowledges the massive hurdles people have faced and still face to this day, but it also says that they can be overcome. The fact that the cast is all-LGBTQ+ (Jim Rash, Dot-Marie Jones, Eve Lindley, TS Madison, and Miss Lawrence are all great in their supporting roles) shows that the film welcomes all people with open arms. It’s a wonderful message from a wonderful movie.