THREE AND A HALF STARS A boy meets bro love story
ROM-COM US #BROS
Starring Billy Eichner, Luke Mcfarlane
If BROS was a straight film, it would get the attention that most Judd Apatow produced rom-coms receive. This is the kind of balls-forward, marginally offensive comedy that he’s been involved with many times before, the kind where most leading characters get their moment in the spot light to say something ‘outrageous’ that gets middle-America tittering behind their fans. ‘Did he just say that?’ ‘I think he did!’ ‘Oh my goodness!!’ In fairness, his body of work has done a fine job of dismantling fear and anxiety around otherness and made many people laugh along the way. Some (THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN) more successfully than others (THIS IS 40). To further the comparison, if BROS was a straight film it would be joining Paul Rudd for a drink, not Steve Carell.
But it’s not a straight film. BROS is riding a spectacular wave of queer screen visibility that has paved the way for a big-budget international multiplex release such as this. BROS, a big gay rom-com is competing toe-to-toe with Vin Diesel, Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, Julia Roberts and George Clooney. First time that’s happened. Recognising that there’s a huge, pent up demand for movies such as this, Hollywood has put prurience behind itself and finally caught up with the real world. The movie acknowledges as much, ‘Gay sex was more fun when straight people were uncomfortable with it’ laments our hero as his friends and their kids do a ‘bottom dance’.
Resting somewhere between TV’s UNCOUPLED and SPECIAL, this leans heavily into the kind of comedy designed to make some people uncomfortable and the rest of us laugh at their discomfort. A lot. For BROS is a funny film. There’s an echo of Woody Allen about the rapid-fire delivery of Billy Eichner’s Bobby, a ’New York Jew’ who’s determined to educate anyone and everyone about gay history, gay culture and gay sex. He’s opening the city’s first gay museum after all, a situation that puts him in the middle of a cultural shitstorm with every letter of the gay alphabet determined to have their input.
Then there’s eye-candy Aaron (Luke Mcfarlane), American beef-cake, a bro and Bobby’s complete opposite. And what do opposites do in movies like this? Exactly. No prizes for guessing how any of this on-off-on-off dating game will play out since Eichner (as writer) and director Nicholas Stoller (BAD NEIGHBOURS) stick very closely to both formulas, that of the rom-com and that of Judd Apatow. That aside, there’s still plenty of fun to be had, especially in a super-charged first half stuffed with laugh out loud jokes and gags. Although the inevitable inevitability gets the better of BROS as it strolls toward an oh-so predictable ending, it firmly achieves what it set out to do: offend some people, make many more people laugh, surprise a few others and do so as an unapologetic, big budget, international multiplex release. First time that’s happened, and that’s quite an achievement.