Release Date – 28th October 2022, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 56 minutes, Director – Nicholas Stoller
Whilst preparing to opening America’s first LGBTQ+ museum Bobby (Billy Eichner) finds himself moving away from a life of casual hook-ups as he becomes romantically involved with also struggling-to-commit Aaron (Luke Macfarlane).
Bros commits the cinematic sin of being a rom-com that’s over 90 minutes long, and it doesn’t quite get away with it. While still having a number of laughs along the way you can feel the run-time being drawn-out as it starts to wrap up the various elements that it’s dealing with. You can also feel that it’s still eager to explore and develop certain points and wants to show more while knowing that it needs to wrap itself up. This is largely down to the fact that while it plays along the lines of a traditional rom-com it unashamedly leans into its big promotional angle of being ‘the first major studio gay rom-com’, also featuring an entirely LGBTQ+ central cast. Helping to provide a number of good jokes along the way while never completely jumping into the prominence of the narrative.
Billy Eichner leads in an against-type performance as Bobby, a recently-turned-40 gay influencer with a successful podcast and series of children’s books about LGBTQ+ history. After the prospect of writing a movie fall through when his views of gay romance don’t match those of the studio his sights are turned to America’s first LGBTQ+ museum. The opening is rapidly approaching however there’s disagreement as to what the big final exhibit should be. Should it be dedicated to the idea that Abraham Lincoln was a closeted homosexual, or should it be a Hall Of Bisexuals? Each figure has their own strong views, perhaps none more so that Jim Rash’s scene-stealing Robert, leading to a number of chuckles within the representation-based arguments.
However, Bobby’s focus isn’t entirely in the museum as he begins to enter into a relationship with will lawyer Aaron (Luke Macfarlane). Both are very much single and spend their free time engaging in quick hook-ups with matches on Grindr. However, despite initial hesitancy from both parties a bond begins to form between them. It shouldn’t work “we’re from different worlds. I’m from New York City, you’re from upstate New York”, but it’s made clear through the more intimate scenes between them – as opposed to the humour and lack of emphasis in other sex scenes in the film – that there’s something between them.
Amongst this there’s a clear self-awareness from the film about the relationships it’s depicting and gay representation in pop-culture. Certain scenes, such as Bobby and Aaron leaving another gay cowboy movie led by straight actors or the Hallmark channel now making more inclusive Christmas films such as “A Holly Poly Christmas”, are pitched with an effective satire. It leans into the ‘first of its kind’ push that the film has without, again, feeling overbearing or the main element of the film, the narrative is consistently remembered. Yes, it may mean that the run-time is pushed, but there’s still plenty of amusement to be found within the various laughs held in the third act and its more largely traditional rom-com stylings. With certain moments it’ll be interesting to see how well this film ages, more in regards to its rather modern leanings and the ways in which the likes of dating apps, etc play into Bobby’s life, but while that’s a point for the film in the future for now it all works rather well in the film’s context.
Amongst the humour it almost takes you by surprise when the film delves into a more serious strand. Particularly in an effective character-based monologue from Bobby when sat on a beach with Aaron. The film as a whole works rather well from its frequently acknowledged landmark studio movie perspective while never forgetting the core narrative/s at the centre of it. It might lead to it feeling slightly busy in the final stages where you begin to feel the run-time, but there are still plenty of laughs within co-writers Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller’s (who also serves as director) screenplay. Bros remembers its rom-com basis and travels along those lines rather well. Presenting plenty of amusement and satire along the way.
Amongst its self-aware satire and enjoyable humour Bros doesn’t forget its traditional rom-com leanings and narrative. It effectively comes together and while leading to a slightly pushed run-time there’s plenty of laughs to be had along the way.