‘Bros’ review: A historic LGBTQ-led rom-com with bite in predictable territory
Still from 'Bros' via AP

Yes, the new romantic comedy Bros is making history, but is it any good? That’s the big question. The film has grabbed headlines for being the first major studio gay rom-com, and the first studio movie starring and co-written by an openly gay man. That alone—in the year 2022, when there are places aiming to further marginalize and even criminalize those who belong to the LGBTQ community—is worthy of note.

With all that mentioned, a movie’s quality cannot rest on its groundbreaking existence alone. Fortunately for Bros, it’s a historic film that also has entertaining comedic bite. The self-aware comedy is effective, even if at times a bit too on the nose. It leans on familiar, and at times overdone, beats we’ve seen in plenty of romantic comedies of the past, but it does so with engrossing charm.

The film is directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) from a screenplay he co-wrote with Billy Eichner (Billy on the Street). Eichner stars as Bobby Lieber— a popular podcaster, writer, and museum curator— who meets a man named Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), who seems to be the complete opposite of him.

Both men are afraid of commitment, but their growing feelings for each other push them towards attempting some semblance of a serious relationship. In the midst of this, Bobby is in charge of the first national LGBTQ history museum, but he’s finding it hard to secure funding and direction for the project.

As Bobby and Aaron go through the rollercoaster that is love, both men grapple with their own life directions as individuals. There’s many hijinks to be had and jokes along the way. If that sounds like a lot, it is. The film attempts to cover a lot of ground and commentary. Oftentimes it succeeds, but at other times it can feel a bit crowded.

Bros has a world of characters, both main and supporting, who help to bring the film to life. This is one of its strongest aspects. The love story between Aaron and Bobby is nice and endearing, but some of the best scenes in the film involve the supporting characters around our main duo.

That’s not to say that the love story isn’t one of quality. This is a rom-com after all, and if the two leads lacked chemistry to the point that viewers didn’t care about the development of their relationship, that would be a major detriment to the film.

That’s not the case here, but due to Bros attempting to cover so much ground, there are times where the romance gets lost among some of the other material and dialogue. Viewers may wish the film was more of an ensemble, where we could look further into the lives of the characters played by Eve Lindley, Ts Madison, Dot-Marie Jones, and others.

The comedy is smart and self-aware. There are some raunchy and adult themes, but the script doesn’t rely on it to the point of distraction. What Bros revels in is wit and comedic social commentary. It is a film that is very aware it’s breaking new ground, and it has a lot to say about the lack of progress when it comes to representation for the LGBTQ community.

There are plenty of times when this style works. The museum plot line gives the film a great way to insert bits of LGBTQ history for viewers. There are other times when characters speak more like walking memes and social media posts than actual people. It is very American pop culture heavy and relies on the audience being well-versed in that, too. If a viewer isn’t hip to a number of current trends or past TV shows, a good amount of jokes won’t land as well for them.

Bros also packs plenty of heart. All of the characters are likable to varying degrees. Further, the movie aims to break the trope of the traumatic gay experience. For so long, the formula was that LGBTQ characters must be suffering, depressed, and doomed in order to have a plotline in a film or television show. Bobby and Aaron have their struggles, but it never gets so dramatic to the point of completely derailing the joy.

This is important because, although there may be those who comment that this is “unrealistic” or “too happy,” when it comes to marginalized communities, joy is a revolutionary concept. That’s especially the case under a system that constantly seeks to “other” and oppress them.

Exploring the idea of shaking off the shackles of societal ills whenever possible in mainstream media is a new frontier. It is needed in order to combat the overdone image that those who belong to marginalized groups are only defined by their suffering and oppression.

Yes, this film is at times a paint-by-the-numbers romantic comedy with all the known beats. That doesn’t mean it isn’t unique. It’s predictable, but it’s fresh because of the kind of characters that are allowed to hold the spotlight. By being a film with members of the LGBTQ community both in front of and behind the camera, whole new layers are added to the story that weren’t there before.

Everyone is human, and we all are probably more alike than we are different, but different cultures bring different things to the table. This is true when it comes to the LGBTQ community as well. It’s also true that this community is not a monolith, which is touched upon in the film.

And since this film has plenty to say, there are times when characters say plenty. There will be monologues. Some work to drive home points effectively, while others feel awkwardly placed and overdrawn.

Overall, Bros is good and funny. Viewers will laugh, and they may even get teary-eyed in some moments. It won’t be everything for everyone, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s hopefully a start to more widely-released feature films centering on members of the LGBTQ community in a layered and nuanced way.

Bros premiers in theaters on Sept. 30, 2022.


Chauncey K. Robinson
Chauncey K. Robinson

Chauncey K. Robinson is an award winning journalist and film critic. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she has a strong love for storytelling and history. She believes narrative greatly influences the way we see the world, which is why she's all about dissecting and analyzing stories and culture to help inform and empower the people.