BROS: 3 ½ STARS. “a subversive, new, crowd-pleasing take on a Hollywood staple.”
“I’m not the person to write a romcom,” says Billy Eichner as the acerbic Bobby in “Bros,” the first major studio LGBTQ+ rom-com to play exclusively in theatres.
It’s a meta line in a movie that is both subversive and cliched. Star, co-writer and producer Eichner has melded frank sexuality with rom con conventions to create a funny, sincere movie that kicks the celluloid closet door wide open.
Eichner, the former host of the guerilla-style talk show “Billy on the Street,” plays Bobby, a gay, commitment-adverse podcaster. “I’m like whatever happened to Evan Hanson,” he says.
For Bobby random and anonymous Grindr hook-ups are a way of life until he spots handsome Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) in a club. At first, they appear to be polar opposites. “I don’t think he’s my type,” says Bobby. “He’s like a gay Tom Brady.”
But soon their mutual fear of commitment brings is the glue that bonds them. “Maybe we can be emotionally unavailable together,” Bobby says.
The confirmed bachelor who meets his partner is a standard rom com set-up. “My whole life, I prided myself on being self-reliant,” says Bobby, “but this *bleeper* has gotten into my head.”
But this story about the difficulty of dating is given a facelift by a meta joke about writing a gay rom com and the addition of steroids, thruples, a hat shaped like the Stonewall Inn and extensive use of Grindr.
“Bros” has echoes of “When Harry Met Sally” and “You’ve Got Mail” throughout. It’s a pure rom com from the nice apartments, New York City backdrop and the trademarked Drew Barrymore Misunderstanding That Leads to a Temporary Break-up©. You know where the story is going, but rom coms are not about the destination, they’re about the journey and, “Bros” is a fun trip.
Eichner layers this story of self-acceptance and love-at-first-sight with laugh-out-loud jokes, an unexpectedly caustic cameo from Debra Messing and heartfelt observational humor. It embraces the innate vulnerability and complexity of Aaron and Bobby’s exploration of masculinity and queerness without forgetting the funny.
But just as it makes you laugh, Eichner subverts the form with some more introspective moments. As a gay man with aspirations to chronicle his community, Bobby has a long, earnest monologue about waiting for the world to catch up with him.
“Bros” is a queer rom com; a subversive, new, crowd-pleasing take on a Hollywood staple.