The box office failure of this LGBTQ rom-com in the US has been something of a talking point among those that emotionally invested in the success of media. Oh no. A fairly standard R-rated rated com with the only mild novelty being the sexuality of the characters underperformed theatrically. In an era where the majority of this genre (regardless of sexuality) has pivoted to streaming. This shouldn’t be in the least bit surprising for anyone who’s paid attention to media trends over the last five years. Thus the film arrived very quietly in the UK but did get rolled out on a decent number of multiplex screens. Was this the kind of breakthrough in representation for the mainstream to get behind? all the kind of middling effort that will still enable fans and activists to write any potential criticism off as just homophobia.
The truth is that it occupies an awkward middle ground. Bros are consistently funny and solidly charming. Even as a mid-level theatrical release it’s the kind of thing that this viewer would give a solid if far from a glowing recommendation. The dialogue is snappy with laughs throughout. Performances are solid across the board. as someone only familiar with Billy Eichner through his role in The Lion King CG remake, he has some comedic chops although he can prove a little grating over the 115-minute runtime. The real find here is Luke McFarlane who before this had starred in a variety of heterosexual Hallmark moviesMcFarlane combines a level of ease with the distinctly R-rated material whilst oozing natural charisma. If his agents play their cards right we could be looking at our next major Hollywood star. The narrative also leans into earnest conventionality rather effectively. The thing is that while the script does have enough genuine laughs to paper over its gaping cracks it also wants to satirise and play into playing a certain distinctly irritating variety of male machismo. This is not helped by the marketing containing perhaps the worst poster of the past several years. The marketing is playing decidedly into this awful impulse to attract the audience implied by the terrible title. ultimately the narrative does want to try and subvert this with the previously mentioned level of sincerity. Ultimately though the tone also wants to attract the exact audience is trying to target for comedic effect. There is more than enough here to like and recommend regardless of the half-hearted attempt at subversiveness that falls distinctly flat on its face.
Similarly well Eichner and the creative team won’t want to hear this there’s plenty of adult crossover YA and LGBTQ material with a global audience that’s just as frank with its discussion of sex, identity and gender as anything the creative team behind something like Bros can offer. The show may be inconsistent at times but Laurie Nunn and the creative team behind Sex Education at their best would eat Eichner and friends for breakfast from a quality perspective. this is without the pacing problems and long runtimes that have plagued these Judd Apatow adjacent comedies for going on 15 years at this point.
Bros is a distinctly likeable modern rom-com The sort of easy-to-watch consistently funny offering that’s very easy to recommend despite the overlong runtime and pacing problems that come with the territory in terms of this variety of R-rated comedy. It’s also simultaneously nowhere near as smart or progressive as those involved think it is. Combine that with a marketing campaign that leans into all the worst elements of Male machismo in the most grating way possible (regardless of the sexual orientation of the characters) and it’s hard not to see why the film flopped in the US regardless of the homophobia argument. In this genre’s migration to streaming, it might be fair to argue that unless one has massive star power on hand ( like the recent Ticket to Paradise) this genre is not that viable on the big screen. This Will be looked at as hugely detrimental by some viewers. UltimatelytThis writer would argue it doesn’t particularly matter. In an age where high-spec TVs are more accessible than ever ( these may provide better quality than your local cinema) There’s no reason to specifically hunt down mid-range comedic films like this in a theatrical presentation. Well, the creative team behind Bros may come across as thinking it’s much more transgressive as a piece than it is it’s also destined to find its home on streaming. Given the modern landscape, this is perfectly fine.