Billy Eichner writes and stars in hilarious gay romcom Bros
Bros has been making waves since its announcement for good reason. Though there’s been plenty of gay romcoms portrayed on film before they have either been put out on small, specialist labels relegated to online streaming only, or LGBTQ characters have been left as the background figures in straight stories. Bros is the first gay romcom put out by a major studio for mainstream cinema release, and received a big cash injection and advertising push from Universal Studios. It’s directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and produced by Judd Apatow.
Billy Eichner co-writes and stars as Bobby, a cis white gay podcaster and author who writes queer history books and is on the board for the newly created LGBTQ+ history museum – the first of its kind. Bobby rants on his podcast that gay love is not the same as straight, that he can have hook ups with strangers and emotional closeness with friends, but to expect romance in his own life is unrealistic and he is fine with that. When he meets buff like-minded lawyer Aaron (Luke MacFarlane) at a nightclub and the two start to spend time together, they come to find they may be relationship people after all.
Bros ruthlessly skewers the recent pandering of Hollywood to the gay market in cinema. The ‘’Hallheart’’ channel plays 24/7 spoofs of Hallmark channel romances and Christmas movies including such ridiculous titles as ‘’a Holly Poly Christmas.’’ Meanwhile the cinemas overflow with straight actors playing tragic gay figures in Oscar bait movies. Bobby laments in a 4th wall teasing bit that no one wants to see real gay relationships in mainstream movies – everything is either depressing or sanitised.
To get straight to the point of what makes or breaks a romcom – Bros is hysterically funny. Eye watering, applauding at zingers, face achingly funny. There’s some cracking one liners, nearly non-stop pop culture references and some good natured ribbing of the different groups within the LGBTQ community. A smile was plastered to my face for nearly the entire two hour run time.
The rom part of the romcom is also an absolute delight. Eichner and MacFarlane have better chemistry than many of the straight couples in successful romcoms – MacFarlane has been in no less than 14 of the Hallmark movies Bros makes fun of, so he’s an absolute pro. While there is an admirably honest serious undertone in parts, their horny, messy, unconventional route to romance is fun and easy to invest in. The audience roots for the guys to figure it out and get together despite their claims they’re not the relationship sort.
In terms of the rest of the cast major props should be given to Eichner who fought for the film to have an entirely LGBTQ cast and crew. Nearly every role (even the few straight ones) is filled by someone from the community, and casting director Gayle Keller has packed it with familiar faces who also have serious comedy chops. The supporting cast includes Community’s Jim Rash, reality host and drag race judge T.S Madison and Glee alum Dot-Marie Jones. Bros is a serious contender for the funniest film of the year.
A great comedy, a surprisingly sweet romance and a powerful background story about the opening of an LGBTQ+ history museum, it’s really a delightful package. Whilst this film celebrates being by the community for the community, there is a lot here for all audiences to enjoy. More than just laughs, Bros has a great deal of heart.
Bros was reviewed as part of the BFI London Film Festival; it will be released in cinemas on 28th October 2022
See a more X-Rated trailer here