The studio’s mainstream rom-com is flourishing, but it took Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller to prove that the format still works, even if this time it’s two gay men who find love against all odds.
Even though Bros is making history as the studio’s first major film with an LGBTQ lead cast, and the first starring and co-starring a gay man, it ultimately goes to show just how hard it is to find the perfect one. Someone to spend your life with is truly universal. Don’t get me wrong. Much of the humor in Bros comes from the situations and attitudes of gay culture, but you don’t have to be gay to laugh out loud.
It’s a must-see in a theater as I did tonight at the film’s world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and I can tell you I didn’t realize how long I’ve been sitting in a movie theater. and he laughed so loudly. Bros is the funniest and most heartfelt movie of the year. I had forgotten that comedies like this were made in studios all the time. Maybe Bros can bring them back.
It should come as no surprise, as this isn’t the first rodeo for Stoller, whose comedy credits include Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement and others, and producer Judd Apatow, whose extensive credit list includes The 40 Year Old Virgin. Knocked Up, The Big Sick, Trainwreck and so many more. In addition, he is responsible for leading major studios to greenlight films, including breakthrough films for Steve Carell, Amy Schumer, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and more. Why not a gay man like Eichner, who has a real movie star personality, and is, well, impossible, and clearly has a sharp quirk to add to that list? The jokes and endless pop culture references come at a hard-to-follow pace, delivered by an all-star cast that knows how to work their socks off.
The basic premise is that Bobby (Eichner) is frustrated that he has reached middle age and cannot find love. Visits to gay nightspots always end in disappointment and he can’t catch a break – a man whose self-image doesn’t match the hot, tuned men at the gym who seem to get all the action. His day job intensifies his gayness as he tries to open the first LGBTQ Museum of Natural History, but he has to deal with a board that has personal connections to all of these letters and seems to disagree with a lot of them. Anyway, one night he thinks he sees “the one” across a crowded dance floor. That guy, Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), is someone his caustic friend Henry (Guy Branum) warns him is boring, but Bobby soon learns otherwise, but he’s frustrated that Aaron doesn’t want to hook him up, so that’s what it is. relationship phobic In the end, in classic romantic comedy, they see that they just need each other, that this may be real, but that Bobby needs it more than Aaron. If you’ve ever seen a rom-com where opposites attract, you can pretty much telegraph where this is all going, but getting there is fun.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to surround yourself with killer comedy talent, and the fact that this was mostly cast with all LGBTQ in mind is admirable, but it makes sense when you see this group, clearly. as good as it gets Eichner explodes on screen as a major comic talent (but we knew that from his lovable lemur in The Lion King, right?). He knocks it out of the park, whether it’s by breaking up over dinner with Aaron’s parents, lowering his voice several octaves to appear like a cool bro to the other gym rats, or going toe-to-toe with a hysterical Debra Messing. a cameo playing his Will and Grace character and his frustration at being the real-world answer to gay men’s problems. That’s great, but there are many; here the ratio between success and failure is very high. This is smartly written, but it’s not so smart that they can’t picture everything from Hallmark Christmas movies to Reneé Zellweger.
Macfarlane is, if you’ll excuse the expression, the straight man here, a perfect foil for Eichner’s somewhat manic Bobby, and the chemistry between them is spot on. It’s awesome. Branum gets some choice observations and steals scenes every time he appears, the snarky fellow you’ve always seen in these movies since Hollywood started making them decades ago. The LBGTQ museum board is priceless and includes Miss Lawrence, TS Madison, Jim Rash, Eve Lindley and Dot-Marie Jones, who makes some great lesbian jokes. Bowen Yang makes a brief appearance during his stay in Provincetown when Bobby tries to get him to donate money to the museum, and Harvey Fierstein plays a gay friend who lets him stay at his place. The end of the film also has some surprise cameos in one of these museum exhibits.
With a nod to some classic comedies of the past (You’ve Got Mail seen live) Marc Shaiman, who composed the scores for When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle and many more, provides the perfect score to set Bros. in that same league. A fun original song, “Love Is Not Love” was written by him and Eichner, with the latter tipping his cowboy hat to “gay icon” Garth Brooks in a cheeky musical.
Producers are Apatow, Stoller and Josh Church. Universal will release it in around 3,000 theaters on September 30.
Fortunately, in making this “first” for studio romantic comedies, these filmmakers haven’t rewritten the genre’s rules, but instead opened a closed door and found ways to make it new again.