Movie Review: Bros

Billed as the first gay romcom made by a major studio to star and be written by an openly gay man and released in cinemas, BROS is truly a ground-breaking film. Even so, audiences, or at least the straight ones, have collectively given the film the cold shoulder, and BROS bombed at the US box office despite receiving glowing reviews from both the critics and the largely gay audiences that saw it.

BROS follows the emotional journey of Bobby Leiber (Billy Eichner, THE LION KING) a 40-year-old “cis white gay man” who lives in New York. Leiber is the author of a number of books about gay historical figures that few people read and hosts a popular podcast on the subject. He’s just been appointed to the board of a new LGBTQ+ museum in Manhattan so he has all the appearance of someone who has his life together. He’s lonely, however, and he’d like to be in a steady relationship even though he says he loves the freedom and independence that comes from meeting guys on Grindr for casual hookups. It’s at a dance party where he meets Aaron Shepard (Luke Macfarlane, SINGLE ALL THE WAY), a muscly estate lawyer who prefers having group sex to intimate relationship-building. The two begin a friendship with benefits but it hits a pothole when Bobby’s outspokenness on gay issues rubs Aaron the wrong way. Aaron, meanwhile, runs into an old friend from his hometown.

There’s a lot that’s good about BROS and there’s some that’s not so good. The script, written by Eichner and the film’s director Nicholas Stoller (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL), is loaded with witty one-liners and digs at popular gay culture, and all the jokes hit their marks. Leiber pokes fun at Hollywood’s fascination with “sad, gay cowboys” (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and THE POWER OF THE DOG, to name two examples) and also takes more than a few swipes at Hallmark’s annual heteronormative slate of Christmas movies, which is particularly funny as Macfarlane has starred in 14 of them. Where the film doesn’t work is with its preachiness. I can appreciate that Hollywood has sidelined gay stories for the better part of 90-odd years and Eicher wants to redress the imbalance but he can’t do it, and he shouldn’t try to do it, with one film. In between all the jokes and bitchy quips, Bobby gives audiences a history lesson on what it has been and continues to be, to a large extent, gay in America. It gets tiresome and even Aaron comments on it to Bobby when they spend the day showing Aaron’s family around the city. Especially when straight audiences are avoiding this film like the plague, Eichner really is preaching to the choir here, and because there is so much preaching going on, the film is about 20 minutes too long. A romcom should be 100 minutes long tops but BROS comes in at just under two hours. This is a great example where less would have been more.

BROS opens on a limited engagement in Hong Kong’s cinemas tomorrow (November 25th). It gets an A for the comedy, giving new meaning to “homogamous”, bringing words like “throuple” into the mainstream, and showing group sex on camera, but a C+ for execution.

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