The new romantic comedy Bros, starring Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane, is one of the funniest, laugh out loud movies to land in theaters in a very long time. And the good news is the film doesn’t succeed by merely swapping out a female romantic protagonist for a second male lead. No, this is gay dating in 2022 – with all its messy complications and queer foibles.
Bros is as funny and specific to its characters as Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, or Tom Hanks and Ms. Ryan a decade later in You’ve Got Mail. And as queer movie-goers know, most of the time when we see LGBTQ characters up on the screen, there’s some kind of tragedy or long-suffering taking centerstage. Bros gives us a light-hearted, hilarious, rom-com take on queer ‘love connections.’
The film begins with the classic “opposites attract” dynamic. This time we follow loud/proud, opinionated but self-doubting podcaster Bobby (Billy Eichner), who’s really a heightened version of Eichner’s real-life persona. Bobby attends a party where across a crowded room he sees buff, beautiful former jock Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), who has a successful career as a lawyer but yearns for a more creative occupation. Upon their first meeting, you have to wonder how Eichner’s curmudgeonly Bobby will find the inevitable romantic spark with the quieter, more pensive Aaron.
It’s worth noting that while some may see Eichner’s role as more showy, Macfarlane deserves major props for balancing Bobby’s big gay bluster with swoon-worthy moments where he simply listens and hears Bobby’s insecurities. With a long history of Hallmark rom-coms on his resume, clearly Macfarlane has mastered the skill of paying amorous attention via silent gaze. And what develops is the emergence of emotional intimacy.
Part of the secret sauce here isn’t so secret. Eichner cleverly sprinkles in many often used rom-com touchstones from classic, heteronormative rom-coms, but puts a distinctly current gay spin on them. Along the way, Eichner and co-writer Nicholas Stoller serve up references to Grindr, poppers, three-ways (or four-ways), masc-for-masc gym personas, and a hysterical bedroom sex scene between Eichner and Macfarlane that had the audience roaring.
There’s also a slow-motion falling-in-love sequence set in Provincetown that captures all the heartwarming magic of past romantic comedies, except this time the couple falling in love are both guys. And nothing seems unusual about it.
A sub-plot of the film is Bobby’s position on the board of directors of the soon-to-be “National Museum of LGBTQ+ History.” Several scenes show Eichner’s character debating with his fellow board members about what kind of exhibits to place in the museum, which subtly opens up a broader discussion of what stories do queer people want to tell about our community. With bi, trans, gay and lesbian representation sitting at the table, everyone lands some great points (and laugh lines).
Bros features an oh-so-talented LGBTQ cast of principal players including Dot-Marie Jones, Harvey Fierstein, Bowen Yang, Guy Branum, TS Madison, Jai Rodriguez, Symone, Guillermo Diaz and more. We also get cameo appearances by LGBTQ fan favorites Kristin Chenoweth and Debra Messing. The film is being touted as the first gay rom-com to be released in theaters by a major American studio.
“After queer actors have spent decades watching straight actors capitalize both artistically and professionally by playing LGBTQ+ characters, it is a long overdue dream come true to be able to assemble this remarkable, hilarious cast,” Eichner previously said of the film.
Representation, lots of laughs, and we get to look at Luke Macfarlane for nearly two hours? Bros is definitely a winner.
Bros starring Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane, directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), opens in theaters today, September 30. You can check out the official trailer below.
Five stars out of five ★★★★★