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Bros May Not Break The Mold, But You Should Still See It Anyway

Bros May Not Break The Mold, But You Should Still See It Anyway

Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane star in “Bros.”
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Billy Eicher’s studio-backed rom-com has the laughs. Is that enough to make it quietly revolutionary?

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Ever since Billy Eichner’s film Bros was announced, it’s been marketed as something innovative. At first, they advertised it as the “first gay romantic comedy to premiere by a major studio,” which isn’t quite true (Love, Simon says hi). Then it was amended with “written and starring a gay man” which, OK sure. But while you can argue that its existence marks a turning point in mainstream representation, it’s not exactly a revolutionary film — but maybe that’s kind of the point.

The film centers on Bobby and Aaron (Eichner and Luke Macfarlane) after an awkward meet-cute in a gay bar. Aaron’s a fan of Bobby’s cynical podcast but struggles to feel good about his dead-end job and life trajectory. Forever the outcast, Bobby can’t believe the commitment-phobic jock is legitimately into him and finds one way after another to self-sabotage. The film turns out to be more com than rom-com but takes all the stops you’d expect from the genre along the way. And Eicher makes a point to keep it pointedly queer. All of the central cast identifies as LGBTQ+. There are gay jokes, gay-sex, Grindr dick pics, a foursome, queer history lessons, bisexual awareness, Debra Messing playing herself, buff lesbians, what more could you homos want?

The film has a lot of heart. Bobby tends to monologue quite a bit throughout the film and during an especially thoughtful one in Provincetown, he opens up to Aaron about walking through the world and never feeling like he was enough, about growing up queer, being told you’re voice is too high pitched, your walk is too feminine, your art is too niche, you are too niche, too much, too gay. It’s something most gay men have experienced, a sentiment that’s been repeated for decades to diminish us, keep us behind the scenes and in the shadows. To keep us invisible.


BrosCourtesy of Universal Pictures

It’s a relatable feeling. We all want to tell our own stories. After being excluded from the narrative our entire lives, we want to see people who look and feel like us in love. To get the hot guy. To cheer for ourselves as they ride off into the sunset. With Bros, Eichner brings that wish fulfillment to life quite literally. The entire film feels like atonement for the way the world has treated him. Finally, it’s Billy Eichner’s turn.

Centering Billy hinders the film from reaching its potential at times. It boasts this insanely diverse cast yet it’s all about Bobby and Aaron. Don’t expect depth or a character arc from anyone who isn’t these two cis-white gay men. Eichner even pokes fun at his own myopic POV in the film, but that doesn’t make it any better.

As the romantic lead, Aaron is the same brand of hunk we’ve been taught to fawn over since Hollywood first realized thirst sells. Even though Bobby believes himself to be “not like the other gays”, he craves their validation, attention, and love. Macfarlane feels like he was created in a gay lab by a teenager who typed the word “hot” into an AI and plays his role well with enough charm. But more than once I found myself staring at his perfectly lit pecs while Eichner monologued behind him (the amount of time Macfarlane spends shirtless on screen certainly proves there are some working gays behind the camera). And while the point of a rom-com is to root for the couple to get together against all odds, I found myself not really connecting with their chemistry as a couple.

Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane star in \u201cBros.\u201dCourtesy of Universal Pictures

The jokes are Bros are its greatest strength. It’s funny. There’s some hilarious commentary about hook-up culture and gay men’s fear of commitment. It’s overflowing with ridiculous pop culture references. My favorite joke was Bobby complaining about the cultural differences between gay Gen Xers and millennials/Gen Z: “We had AIDS. They had Glee.”

And as promised, It’s outrageously queer. But is that enough?

For a community desperate to see themselves onscreen, we tend to be hyper-critical of that representation when we actually do get it (and this review is no exception). I doubt Bros will see the success of Crazy Rich Asians or Black Panther. It lacks the substance and the universal appeal to the underrepresented culture. But hey. It’s funny. It’s queer. It’s a fine movie. And that’s fine! As Fire Island star Joel Kim Booster put it, “releasing us from the scarcity politics of queer media is going to be huge not only for audiences but for creators.”

This movie doesn't break the rom-com mold — but maybe we don’t need it to. Maybe all we need is a good laugh. In which case it’s a film that is certainly worth your time and support.

Bros premieres in theaters this Friday, September 30. Watch the trailer below.

Bros | Official Trailer [HD]www.youtube.com

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Taylor Henderson

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one! 

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one!