Bros debuts Billy Eichner in a major studio LGBTQ+ romantic comedy that even Kristin Chenoweth wearing a Stonewall hat can’t save.
Bros starring Billy Eichner, and produced by Judd Apatow is the first major studio romantic comedy telling a queer story at its heart.
Bros was screened as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2022. All words of this review were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.
Billy Eichner’s irreverent vox pops made him an internet sensation with his interviews both with celebrities and satirically finding out the gaps in people’s intelligence, yet his first feature film is devoid of his characteristic wit.
Produced by Knocked Up‘s Apatow, and directed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s Nicholas Stoller, Bros attempts at telling a comical tale of Bobby (Billy Eichner), a podcaster who is cynical about relationships, but focuses on curating the first LGBTQ+ History Museum in New York, and after locking eyes with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) in a club, hopes to be proven wrong after consistent disappointment from Grindr and the latest interest-specific app.
As romantic comedies go, the story is a safe bet. Yet everything about it becomes laden with pop culture references, interwoven with snarky comments about how heterosexuals struggle to accurately portray queer relationships on-screen, all the while doing a disservice to that issue.
For a film proudly shouting about its LGBTQ+ representation is in truth a shameful caricature of bisexual, lesbian, nonbinary, and transgendered identities, with an entire omission of pansexuality, asexuality or aromantics, three identities that are often overlooked from the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
To give credit though, to even include so many actors of varying identities in this film is worth high praise, as I cannot think of another feature film of this scale that has done so with such inclusion at its centre.
It is a disappointment therefore when their involvements are merely a way for the film to market as inclusive, even if the characters themselves do little to help or hinder the storyline, becoming little more than background stereotypes.
Concluding with Billy Eichner taking the stage from a black nonbinary character to serenade his gay masculine partner with a country-style song could not have been a better metaphor for what the film attempts to do, and yet clearly misses the mark on.
Knowing that the film is going to be a disappointment, it instead opts to litter every scene with references or cameo appearances from queer-associated media.
After a while, the constant bombardment of mentions of Schitt’s Creek, Will & Grace, Queer Eye, and Broadway theatre, plus cameo appearances by Kristin Chenoweth, Amy Schumer, Ben Stiller, Seth Myers and Kenan Thompson all amount to the film attempting to offer a moment of salvation amongst the bland cringe comedy.
Realistically I can’t see Bros making an impact or opening conversations about queer identity unlike Netflix‘s Heartstopper, or Love, Simon, resulting in only American cosmopolitan audiences enjoying this measly attempt at a queer love story.
Yet, when the film failed to make waves in the States when it was released, I imagine here in the UK where audiences consume less American culture and have a more sarcastic, post humourous understanding of comedy, it will be up Schitt’s Creek attempting to paddle its way into relevancy.
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