I didn’t expect much out of co-writer and director Nicholas Stoller‘s “Bros,” a film billed as the first mainstream gay romantic comedy. In the wrong hands, a film with such lofty ambitions could feel like an overreach in political correctness or an exercise in forced representation. Thankfully the project is neither, and it makes great strides in further normalizing homosexual relationships onscreen.
Podcaster and new head of the country’s first LGBTQ+ history museum Bobby (Billy Eichner) is a cynical gay man living in New York. He’s never had a relationship that lasted more than a couple of months, and he’s not really out and about looking for love. After some random hookups, Bobby meets a hunky lawyer Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) at a club, and they seem like complete opposites. Neither is the other’s type, and they disagree on things like styles of working out and the best music (Mariah vs. Garth Brooks). Of course, that’s when the sparks fly. The men start spending more time together, and a true love story blossoms.
This is a film where almost every character is gay, transgender, or bisexual, and the R-rated language is as racy as some of the bedroom scenes (there’s no graphic nudity, if you’re bothered by that sort of thing). It’s bold and refreshing, even if some of the material is unapologetically in your face. This may be what makes the film a hard sell for mainline conservative audiences but for those with open minds, there’s something liberating about seeing a universal love story. In fact, one of the best compliments I can give to the film is that you’d actually forget the lovebirds are two gay men if not for the constant reminders in the script (everyone is always talking about it).
Eicher and Stoller (who co-wrote the script) build their narrative from classic romantic comedy tropes, proving that some jokes are universal. It certainly follows a tried-and-true formula, but it works. The film captures with honesty the different stages of new relationships, from the meet cute to infatuation, and on to the awkward phase and the kiss-and-make-up period. There’s something here that everyone can relate to, even if there are a fair share of LGBTQ+-specific one-liners.
It’s great to see a conventional rom-com with an unconventional twist. It’s witty and insightful, has affable characters, and two leads with great chemistry and even better comedic timing. The film has an underlying sincerity and doesn’t feel gimmicky, which is a huge step towards an even greater acceptance for all relationships. “Bros” is a romantic comedy that will make you laugh, tug on your heartstrings, and flat-out make you feel happy.
By: Louisa Moore