I’m not usually a fan of romantic comedies as I very rarely find them to be actually funny. The romances in these films are usually flat, using the same tropes over and over again. So, I was wonderfully surprised by how much Bros made me laugh.
Produced by Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller and Joshua Church, directed by Nicholas Stoller with a screenplay co-written with Billy Eichner, who is also an executive producer for the title, there are certain jokes and concepts that you might expect, Bros defies all these expectations, being a self-aware comedy that breathes new life into the rom-com genre.
Bros centres around the life of Bobby Leiber (Billy Eichner), a successful podcaster who is busy planning the opening of the world’s first LGBTQ+ History Museum. Bobby has no desire for a relationship, but the arrival of Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) might soon change his mind.
Bobby says he is single by choice, due in part to the constant stream of men that fail to provide enough engagement and stimulation, and for a man like Bobby, to be challenged is something he feels he needs. The man that might finally be a breath of fresh air, is in the juxtaposing personality of the lawyer, Aaron, meeting at the launch party of the app, Zellweger (“For gays who want to talk about actresses and go to bed,”) as described by his friend, Henry (Guy Branum).
When Bobby first spots Aaron across the bar, there’s the slow-motion gaze, and Aaron approaches Bobby, knowing him from his podcast. The chemistry between the two is instantaneous, already having a more believable flirtation than any other couple in the genre. The main characters arc within the film isn’t through a ‘will-they-or-wont-they’ situation. Instead, their personal struggles and growth is the driving factor in the film.
Aaron is wanting to have more enjoyment in his life. He’s frustrated and miserable in his job, and like Bobby, single by choice. Bobby’s biggest struggle is the impending opening of the museum and the final wing that still hasn’t been decided on. Should past struggles be prioritised over joy? How can everyone’s view be included? For Bobby, his ideas directly connect to his own personal struggles, how can we move forward if we don’t remember our painful past. Before the museum can be opened, Bobby needs to secure a $5 million donation on a trip to Provincetown during Pride with Aaron in tow.
There were so many expectations that Bros broke that made me so happy to see changed, the biggest one was regarding Aaron’s family knowing about his sexuality. Because he defies societies expectations of a gay man, I did have concerns that they would keep him closeted, maybe because he does differ so much from how people would expect a gay man to act. The fact that he is out, his family is accepting, and his sexuality doesn’t matter was so refreshing, making me so happy that his personality and interests weren’t tied to his sexuality. The chemistry between the Eichner and Macfarlane’s characters Bobby and Aaron feels real, with much depth and growth throughout the film, and with a relationship that will tug at your heartstrings in all the right places.
Bros is marketed as a film that straight men can enjoy, and it does have these moments. The ‘gayness’ of the film is often in the form of in jokes using stereotypes sparingly, simply to make the film more accessible to audience member unfamiliar with LGBTQ+ culture and the sex scenes are often played with a humorous tone, similar to other Judd Apatow produced films.
I have mentioned the idea of a painful past that looms over the more progressive present, these never bring the tone down of the film, an example of this is when Bobby and Aaron visit Louis (Harvey Fierstein) looking at a photo of a younger Louis and friends he mentions how he is one of the last ones left. This is an obvious nod towards the AIDS epidemic that took the lives of so many. These jokes are never played too seriously, but the jokes are integral to the plot and giving context to the history of the LGBTQ+ community.
There are so many things that make Bros the best rom-com I’ve ever seen with how realistic the relationship development is, the tropes it chooses to lean into, and the way these have been executed. Bros is a film that you should really see, not just because it’s a joyous film, but because it is proof that films can be made by LGBTQ+ people that have so much representation and can still be enjoyed by anyone. I can assure you that you’ll leave Bros filled with happiness and a smile on your face.