Bros (2022)

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writer: Billy Eichner, Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Guy Branum, Miss Lawrence, TS Madison, Dot-Marie Jones, Jim Rash, Eve Lindley, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Diaz, Jai Rodriguez, Amanda Bearse, Debra Messing, Peter Kim, Justin Covington, Symone, D’Lo, Harvey Fierstein, Bowen Yang, Amy Schumer, Kristin Chenoweth, Ben Stiller
Seen on: 8.11.2022

Bobby (Billy Eichner) is a podcaster and museum curator, currently trying to open the first museum of queer history, while also braving the rather savage gay dating scene. He is not really looking for a relationship – commitment is not really his thing. Neither is Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) who flirts with him at a club, then disappears. When their paths cross again, it looks like the two could be not in a relationship together. But of course that’s easier said than done.

How much you will enjoy Bros will probably depend on how much you generally enjoy Billy Eichner, because this is pretty much his film with everybody else taking a back seat. Some of it worked for me, but unfortunately not all of it.

The film poster showing two men from behind standing next to each other, both with one hand on the butt of the other.

As a queer person myself, I knew I had to watch this film, despite the fact that the marketing ploy of, basically, being the first gay big budget film annoyed me and I usually like Billy Eichner in small doses only. I’m afraid that my resulting worries about the film were not entirely unfounded. The film leans very hard into the “catty gays” trope with Bobby in particular constantly commenting and criticizing pretty much everybody around him, especially gay people. Not that gay people cannot be criticized, or that his commentary is always wrong (though it is often mean-spirited), but it would have been nice if the film had known a couple of more tracks than this one.

The film tries to be self-aware of queer discourse, but it’s the kind of self-aware that refuses to draw conclusions. So we get a film where Bobby acknowledges several time that he is privileged as a white, cis man, but he never manages to reach a point where he isn’t the center of everything. Instead of using his privilege to elevate more marginalized voices, it remains the Bobby show. Ultimately, Bros remains a film that criticizes Hollywood for how it uses gayness, but wants nothing more to be part of Hollywood as it is right now.

Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) and Bobby (Billy Eichner) having drinks together.

There are funny moments in the film. And there are even sweet moments between Aaron and Bobby that ring very true. But most of the time, Bobby is a character that is dialed to 11. And while the film tries to make us see that gay people are allowed to be loud and take their space (and not be likeable all the time), all of which I’d absolutely agree with, the constant blasting at 11 is exhausting. In the few moments where Bobby isn’t on screen and talking (almost the same thing), I felt relieved. Much like with the catty commentary, if Bobby had had more than one volume, it would have made such a difference.

Ultimately, Bros has winning ideas and moments (like the queer Hallmark movies), but it’s not enough to really work for me overall. It’s not bad, far from it, but it’s also not a film that found its way into my heart.

Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) and Bobby (Billy Eichner) at the movies together, Bobby looking very critically at Aaron.

Summarizing: well…

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