(Photo courtesy of NPR) Bros has opened to disappointing results from both critics and the box office.
Bros (2022) is a gay romantic comedy with no laughs. It follows the main character Bobby, played by Billy Eichner, as he destroys a relationship with Aaron, played by Luke Macfarlane. The story is that of a typical romcom, following story beats and leading to a conclusion that will be all-too familiar to fans of the genre. The plot is coherent to a degree, but the writing falls flat.
Bros marketed itself as having an all-queer cast, a promise which was indeed delivered upon. Every on-screen character fell somewhere on the queer spectrum and their identities were vast. From bisexual representation to multiple trans women and a polyamorous couple, the representation was most certainly there for a lot of LGBTQIA+ communities. However, the queer cast and promise of representation was all this movie really delivered on.
The movie marketed itself as a romantic comedy. Unfortunately, all the comedy revolves around stereotypes of queer culture. Multiple characters were boiled down just to their sexual or gender identities, and the jokes are made at their expense. The love interest is ridiculed at multiple points in the film for not knowing things such as queer icons, what Mariah Carey song is playing, and for liking sports and country music. Characters are made the butt-end of several jokes about being ‘straight’ due to having interests that are not viewed as being ‘gay’ by others, and jokes about characters being ‘bottoms’ are present as well.
The writing for the film’s romance is somewhat unrealistic, as is par for the course in the romcom genre. The cast spend the whole movie bullying each other, couples fight in stereotypical romcom holiday settings, and these scenes did not do much more than feel utterly out of place. Certain dynamics are handled well and with a sense of realism, but these bits of proficient writing peppered throughout do not do much to save the rest of the runtime.
Luke Macfarlane held his own on the screen, especially next to Billy Eichner, who lacked in the acting department here. The former gave an excellent performance, his anger and disappointment palpable, while his co-star, the latter of the two, continuously fell flat in the same scenes. Eichner wrote his character to be exactly who he is: insufferable and in your face. He centered this movie on himself and made all the humor tailored to his fans, not a broader audience looking to have a laugh. Multiple jokes in this marketed-for-representation story revolved around a character being cisgendered, white and gay. While in the meantime other, more diverse voices in the film are pushed to the sidelines. The movie feels more like one big episode of Billy on The Street, Eichner’s interview style game show, instead of a new story that can hold its own.
One of the better parts of this film was the lighting and sets. There are multiple scenes set at night or in dark clubs and everything is very well lit and easy to see. The on scene filming in Buffalo, New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts helped to make the story feel more real, and there were not any clearly fake backdrops or awkwardly placed props to distract the viewer. On a technical production level, everything here was surely adequate.
Overall, Bros was another disappointing piece of queer media riddled with reductive stereotypes and nothing to separate itself from the rest of the herd. With multiple sex scenes, obsessive swearing, and mild use of gay slurs, it easily earns its R rating. In short, this movie did not feel like gay media for straight people, but it did feel like a slog of a Billy Eichner comedy show that went on for far too long. The audience for this movie is Billy Eichner and his fans, anyone going in expecting more will be left underwhelmed by what was, or rather was not, delivered here.