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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
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From: Silver Screen

REVIEW: ‘Bros’ is a hilariously heartfelt breakthrough for big-screen gay representation

REVIEW: ‘Bros’ is a hilariously heartfelt breakthrough for big-screen gay representation
(from left) Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) and Bobby (Billy Eichner) in Bros, co-written, produced and directed by Nicholas Stoller.

Bros” is the gay romantic comedy everyone has been waiting for. Finally, a mainstream, big-budget Hollywood romcom written for and by the community it represents. Billy Eichner’s hilarious and heartfelt movie genuinely understands the nuances of the gay dating world, and for once, it doesn’t sanitize the gay community or pander to heterosexual audiences. 

“Bros” follows Bobby Lieberman (Billy Eichner), a successful 40-year-old New Yorker with a popular podcast and a coveted position as chief curator of the world’s premier LGBTQ+ history museum. Although his career is thriving, his love life is stalling. Bobby has never had a long-term relationship and considers commitment a frightening prospect. That all changes after his meet-cute with dreamboat lawyer Aaron (Luke MacFarlane). 

MacFarlane’s overtly masculine character might rub some gay viewers the wrong way, especially when he asks Bobby to tone down his more flamboyant tendencies when meeting Aaron’s conservative parents. At the same time, internalized homophobia is something many gay men struggle with, and Aaron’s journey towards self-acceptance is one of the more joyful aspects of the movie. 

Eichner’s encyclopedic knowledge of queer pop culture lends itself well to the rollicking script. Stars beloved by the LGBTQ+ community including Kristin Chenoweth and Debra Messing make tongue-in-cheek cameos that queer viewers should find especially rewarding. A particularly side-splitting scene lampoons the Hallmark Channel’s recent marketing move aimed at capturing queer audiences with LGBTQ+-themed Christmas movies.    

Eichner’s brash brand of self-satire shines throughout the “Bros” script he co-wrote with Nicholas Stoller. He became a beloved meme-spawning staple of gay Twitter with the charmingly chaotic comedic street interviews he subjected the people of New York City to on his show “Billy On The Street.” In an almost fourth-wall-breaking wink at his more diehard fans, Bobby jokes that Carrie Underwood has him blocked on Twitter. Underwood blocked Eichner in 2021 after he made a joke about her liking an anti-masker’s tweet.  

The entire cast is populated by queer actors, another welcome change from the tired Hollywood formula for LGBTQ+ films. Eichner has previously criticized the problematic practice of casting straight actors in roles that earned them recognition from the Academy but ire from queer audiences seeking genuine representation. 

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The politically charged script is also interwoven with pointed queer commentary. Bobby has a heated argument with Aaron’s mom over her unwillingness to teach her second-grade students LGBTQ+ history. The name of his podcast is The 11th Brick at Stonewall, a reference to the fact that the first ten bricks thrown at Stonewall were likely not thrown by a cis white male gay like himself. The film also pokes fun at the relative ease with which straight-passing white gay men can come out and be embraced by straight society, especially through jokes at Colton Underwood’s expense.        

In adition to being a massive step forward for big-screen gay representation, ”Bros” also finds success by remaining firmly molded in the best rom coms of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Think “You’ve Got Mail” if it was produced by Judd Apatow. There’s a classic meet-cute, a will-they-or-won't-they central dynamic and, of course, a musical serenade. 

At its heart, “Bros” is about celebrating a community that has been relegated to the sidelines of society for too long, both by Hollywood and historians. Here’s hoping this is the first in a long line of cheesy, feel-good queer romcoms. 

rgillis@theeagleonline.com


More from Silver Screen

 Hosts Sara Winick and Sydney Hsu introduce themselves and talk about their favorite TV shows. This episode includes fun facts, recommendations and personal connections. 


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