Bros (2022)

3 Dec

Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2
Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Bros” is the latest from Apatow Productions. It’s a good thing I’m a Judd Apatow fan or I wouldn’t see this film based on the trailer. Why are comedy trailers so bad?

Comedian Billy Eichner stars a gay New York podcaster named Bobby Lieber. (His podcast is called the 11th Brick, as he’s a cis gay white man and he figures a cis gay white man was the 11th person to throw a brick at Stonewall.) He’s 40, a bachelor, constantly hooks up with Grindr users, super intense, defensive, and self-aware to a fault–and he’s never afraid to speak his angry opinion no matter who tells him he should shut up and be respectful of other people. He has a bad habit of dominating the room without reading the room.

Let’s just call Bobby what he is: an a**hole.

But just as Amy was a little much to handle in “Trainwreck” (an Apatow romcom that gets better each time I see it), thankfully Bobby is surrounded by colorful supporting players who are there to either argue with him or bring him down from his arrogant high. (More on them in a bit.) And he also has a winning, funny, and charming romantic interest to help his character grow: a handsome “bro/jock” lawyer named Aaron. At first he’s ready to shove him aside as “boring” but he quickly learns there’s more to him than steroids and baseball caps. So, they start going out, they spend the night together, they lower their defenses a bit, and they sort of start a relationship. (I say “sort of” because neither of them wants to define what this is just yet, especially since Bobby has problems with himself and Aaron has commitment issues.)

Will they? Won’t they?

Well, yeah, of course they will, I already said it’s a romcom, and it follows certain formulas in that regard–but it’s more about how/why than about what.

Back to the supporting cast. As is typical of a film produced by mainstream comedy maestro Judd Apatow, there’s a lot of memorable co-stars on display here. Taking a good chunk of screen time is a terrific ensemble of actors (Ts Madison, Jim Rash, Eve Lindley, Miss Lawrence and Dot-Marie Jones) playing the board members of an up-and-coming museum celebrating LGBTQ+ history. But there are other actors in smaller roles that have time to shine too–if only I could remember the actor/character of Aaron’s brother, because he was freaking hilarious in one scene near the end! (Seriously, I want to see a movie about THAT guy next!)

Aaron is played terrifically by Luke Macfarlane who is as funny as he is likable. I didn’t know who he was before this film, but after Googling him, he’s apparently known for Hallmark movies… There is a running joke in this film about “Hallheart” holiday movies that are playing more to the LGBTQ+ crowd; the joke was already funny, but knowing that he’s a Hallmark actor makes it even funnier!

And “Bros,” directed by Nicolas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), really is funny. Often times, it’s hilarious. My favorite jokes include a tutorial on “listening,” a “Night at the Museum” reference that pays off wonderfully, and a cameo by Debra Messing that’s just…I won’t give it away here, but I’m cracking up just thinking about it again!

And there’s plenty more like that in the film. (There’s also a funny yet also heartwarming homage to Garth Brooks [Aaron’s favorite musician] late in the film.) But there’s also room for drama as well, such as when Eichner (who also co-wrote the script with Stoller) delivers a heartfelt monologue about how people have told him to hold back on his homosexuality all his life. This not only gives insight as to who Bobby is but also how he became who he is–and in a brilliant masterstroke of writing, there’s another monologue he delivers after being told (by Aaron) to “tone it down.” This one is meant more for laughs, but the context makes for a more heartbreaking moment.

Yet, even when Bobby is at his worst, he can still show us who he is at his best. And that plus the laughs and love throughout the screenplay and characters is why “Bros” is worth recommending.

Also, Bobby’s right–love is NOT love (to mock the ever-popular “love is love” slogan); it’s more complicated than that.

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