The mere existence of Bros shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is. If you can believe it, this is the very first romcom starring openly gay people to be released theatrically by a mainstream studio. That it’s taken so long is infuriating — but is Bros a movie worthy of that milestone? The answer is yes, absolutely, and then some.
To be clear, this is not a cookie-cutter romance tale, simply swapping out a straight couple for a gay one. As Billy Eichner’s leading man Bobby states in the opening few minutes, the sentiment "love is love" isn’t quite right: gay relationships are different, gay friendships are different, gay sex is different. And though it still manages to serve up sweeping, conventional romcom moments, Bros reflects that inherent difference throughout. There’s no meet-cute, as such — the two main characters do lock eyes across the room, but it’s a neon-soaked nightclub filled with shirtless gay men. A big love scene is less about the tender handholding we’ve seen so often before, and more about intimacy through pushing the boundaries of physicality, and redefining roles in the bedroom. Even the inevitable bumps in the road of the core relationship are specific to the gay and queer experience, weaving in themes of internalised homophobia, societal narratives about what gay masculinity looks like, and fighting to be yourself in a world that tells you to be anything but.
Bros is a longtime passion project of comedian (and co-writer here) Eichner, and he is a supremely charming leading man. Intelligent, witty and self-deprecating, he’s somewhat breathlessly verbose to begin with, barely taking a second to let scenes sink in — but as Bros progresses and Bobby’s vulnerabilities continue to be exposed, Eichner excels. His performance in the more serious moments — especially during one particularly powerful monologue on a beach — is subtle and heartfelt, while never losing the sense of humour that makes Bobby (and Bros) so brilliant.
The humour is never hampered by its commitment to inclusivity, but heightened by it.
Eichner is matched beautifully by Luke Macfarlane’s devastatingly handsome Aaron, a will executor and non-committal group-sex-haver who looks to have it made from the outside, but is suffering a crisis of confidence underneath. Aaron and Bobby’s ups and downs are deftly written, both able to bring out the best and worst in each other, the way only those you have the deepest connection with can, and their chemistry is tangible. Macfarlane has a warmth and sincerity that makes Aaron empathetic even in his darkest moments; he’s the perfect foil for Eichner’s spikier, self-aware exterior. Most importantly, they’re two wonderfully complex, fully fleshed-out gay characters — no two-dimensional tropes in sight.
So, we know Bros has got the ‘rom’ part down — but what about the ‘com’? With Eichner on co-writing duty, it’s no surprise that this film is funny. What might surprise you is just how relentlessly funny it is. The joke-rate is non-stop in the first act, ranging from snappy one-liners to ingenious sight gags and incisive commentary on modern dating culture; the humour is never hampered by its commitment to inclusivity, but heightened by it. As Aaron and Bobby get closer and time starts to pass more quickly, the middle section of the film lags ever so slightly, but Eichner and director/co-writer Nicholas Stoller continue to hit you with highly amusing set-pieces — a tense dinner scene amidst singing waiters, an unexpected interaction with a special guest star, and an ill-fated attempt at polyamory, to name a few.
These set-pieces are ably delivered by its majority LGBTQ+ cast, showcased most prominently through Bobby’s friend group and colleagues at the new museum he’s working to launch. This setting is a smart way to infuse Bros with educational elements, and the desire to inform people about queer history is an integral part of Bobby’s character. The film doesn’t beat you over the head with this stuff, but invites you into a space to hear about it. The goosebump-inducing montage of LGBTQ+ pioneers from decades past, and reminder that this is a community that has been silenced and wiped out consistently throughout history, makes the presence of this movie on the big screen all the more poignant, the representation all the more satisfying, and the emotional arcs of the main characters all the more impactful. It took Hollywood over a century to bring us a film like Bros — let’s not wait so long for the next one.