TL;DR – While incredibly funny at times, it loses its momentum under the weight of the narrative.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.
Bros Review –
If there is one genre that has almost standardised its narrative, it is the Romantic Comedy. For better or worse, when you go into one of these films, especially the plethora of made-for-tv films that come out during the holidays, you can probably chart the course of the movie in the first five minutes. The business lady will discover she wants a family too. The widower will find love in the most unlikely [i.e. very likely] place. Old lovers, now foes, will become lovers again. This is not necessarily bad. You can still do great things with a tried-and-true formula, but I am always looking for a film that could break through those models, and we might have just such a film today.
So to set the scene, Bobby Lieber (Billy Eichner) is a podcast host of The Eleventh Brick at Stonewall and has been chosen to be the curator of a new National LGBTQ+ History Museum in Manhattan. It is his dream job, and his complete focus, which, given he is incredibly single, works well for him. He prides himself on his independence, even if that means some awkward hook-ups along the way. However, one night at a nightclub, he connects with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), who ghosts him, un-ghosts him, and then ghosts him again. It is perplexing, but for some reason, it makes Bobby more interested in discovering just what his deal is.
It is always challenging to find just how much of a romantic comedy should be a comedy and how much should be romance. But for the latter to work, there needs to be chemistry between our leads [you will be surprised just how often that does not happen]. Thankfully, Billy and Luke work incredibly well together. They both bring different energies to the film, but instead of creating tonal dissidence, they complement each other. It also helps that we get outlets for their individuality. For Bobby, this is the committee meetings that he has with Museum. We get Jim Rash, Ts Madison, Dot-Marie Jones, Miss Lawrence, Eve Lindley and more bounce off each other in a comedic epicentre.
However, while this is a terribly funny film, watching it in a packed theatre was a delight. That comedic focus might also be one of the reasons I didn’t connect with this film as much as I could have. The film opens with this meta-commentary on Romantic Comedies, especially those featuring gay characters like Call Me By Your Name. However, the more it goes on, the more it maps to the narrative beats of the rom-coms that have come before that. You also felt this need to fit into that Judd Apatow-style comedy like The Bubble. Both of these factors bring increasing frustrations with the narrative that doesn’t quite have the strength to hold all these disparate parts together. This leads to aspects of the film like discussions about masculinity and what it means getting pushed to the side. Also, it leads to the film being surprisingly mean in places.
So in the end, do we recommend Bros? On one side of things, this is a very mature comedy full of sex and language, which you probably already know if that is a deal breaker for you. While it is hilarious at times, the rom-com gets lost in everything else that is going on. If you liked Bros, I would recommend to you God’s Own Country.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Bros
Directed by – Nicholas Stoller
Written by – Billy Eichner & Nicholas Stoller
Music by – Marc Shaiman
Cinematography by – Brandon Trost
Edited by – Daniel Gabbe
Production/Distribution Companies – Global Solutions, Apatow Productions & Universal Pictures
Starring – Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Guy Branum, Amanda Bearse, Jim Rash, Bowen Yang, Miss Lawrence, Harvey Fierstein, Symone, Eve Lindley, D’Lo Srijaerajah, Jai Rodriguez, Peter Kim, Dot-Marie Jones, Becca Blackwell, Ryan Faucett, Brock Ciarlelli & Justin Covington with Debra Messing, Kristin Chenoweth, Ben Stiller, Kenan Thompson, Amy Schumer & Seth Meyers
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 12; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R
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I agree the rom-com gets lost in there during parts. But it’s also very much a rom-com that knows its’ got certain beats to hit, knows that the rom-com element is the least important part of what it’s doing. it’s watering down LGBTQIA history and concepts and dynamics for a general movie-going audience (sometimes well, sometimes less so) – it captured both the unity and the dissonance between the various letters in the acronyms well, while toning down some of the nastier elements one can see on Twitter.
I loved the poignancy of a couple of the lines from the onstage speech by the LGBTQIA+ members. Heavily paraphrased: “We are not one thing. we are messy. we are great. we’re only at the beginning of being able to tell our own stories. Happiness comes from staying open to change, being more than who you think you are, or what other people think you are.” a good takeaway msg that puts aside any potential straight viewers for a minute to directly address the LGBTQIA+ youth that need that hopeful message, and a plea to remind any jaded older members of the community that need to hear it.
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