Where I Watched It: Peacock
English audio Description?: Yes
I think I heard more about how groundbreaking this comedy was than anything else. Always lead with “funny as hell”, and less with “breaking glass ceilings”. You can break a glass ceiling and still not be good. Like, if the first person to walk on the moon was Hitler, something tells me we wouldn’t celebrate that. Sometimes, just being first isn’t really the selling feature.
i think that’s where Bros, which actually is hilarious, stumbled at the box office. it was so caught up in letting everyone know it was the first gay romcom in wide release from a major studio that it somehow forgot to remind everyone how funny it is. Director Nicholas Stoller, who previously directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall among others, brings that same level of random humor to this Billy Eichner penned script.
I’m not a big Billy fan. He can be a bit much, but that’s his persona. That’s what he’s trying to be. Billy On The Street is a gag. His acting here, while not far from the persona he projects, allows billy some range in this romcom, which is nice to see. However, much like the desire to let everyone know how groundbreaking the film is, he also plays a character who isn’t just unapologetically gay, but is entrenched in gay history. He’s a podcaster, whose own podcast title references the Stonewall riots, and he gets hired as the director of an LGBT History museum. It’s like Billy is throwing everything he can into one script, like he’ll never be able to make another movie, and he needs this to be as gay as possible and educate anyone he can about gay history along the way.
Personally, this doesn’t bother me. This isn’t the first gay romance I’ve watched, nor will it be the last. But when you’re trying to make a mainstream comedy, with bragging rights, and you bring along a giant history lesson, i do kind of wonder what was important in making this film. What’s interesting is that Billy takes this element and uses it to fuel his character, who has been told at points in his life he’s too gay, or sounds too gay, or no one will listen or buy his stuff because it’s all too gay. So he’s openly addressing the whole thing, but i still don’t know if that makes it OK.
There are lots of ways to show unapologetically gay men in roles without bringing out a history book. I can see where he lost his audience, and why this didn’t hit with everyone. But, it did hit with me. Billy’s character is well written, and Luke Macfarlane is a perfect pairing for him. It does play like a typical romcom in many ways, just with the benefit of an R rating, and also specifics to the main duo being two gay men. But when Billy isn’t busy educating his audience, that’s when we fall in love with him, and his relationship prospects. Bros does well in smaller moments, whether it’s Debra Messing’s amazing cameo, or just a simple exchange between Billy and Luke in the park about sitting on the grass or sitting on a blanket. They come across as a real couple, with real prospects, and as the film takes them on a ride, you do find yourself invested in that ending you hope comes, and it better damn well be happy.
Bros isn’t as groundbreaking as it thinks it is, as there are many, many gay comedies out there. And some of them even feature LGBT casts. you likely haven’t heard of them, but the LGBT audiences have been watching those for years. Bros wants the random people standing in line to choose it, and I wish they would. But, instead of trying to convince them they should watch it because it’s groundbreaking, I wish they knew they should watch it because it’s funny, heartfelt, and relatable.
Sometimes, marketing is the reason a film dies, and it’s not the fault of the film itself. Here, it’s a bit of both. i think Billy Eichner wanted to make history, and wanted everyone to know it. He used this film as a platform, mixing in LGBT history wherever he could, instead of making his character the owner of some store, or a doctor, or teacher, or whatever. He made a very conscious choice, and it comes along with all this learning the audience gets to do. For the gay audience that doesn’t need that education, it’s clearly not meant for them, but for those that it is meant for, they didn’t show up because the film was so busy talking about the glass ceiling it broke, it forgot to just be funny and let the audience find you.
Now, if that isn’t a weird review, I don’t know what is. but I don’t know how else to help an audience find Bros, which is very much one of the funniest films of this year, and clearly deserved so much more at the box office. Is it for everyone? No. But I think some people stayed away who would have really enjoyed this film, perhaps due to any number of reasons.The reason you should or shouldn’t see something almost always should just be… is it good? Yes, this is.
Final Grade: A-