What to Watch Verdict
Bros is a refreshingly self-aware comedy that builds its romance in a way that's highly relatable and utterly hilarious.
* The laughs come one after another
* The ensemble cast is stellar but could've been better utilized
* The last act stumbles due to a pace change
The hallmark of a good romantic comedy is a stellar meet-cute, the ability to leverage relationship tropes in its best interests and an obvious obstacle to a happily-ever-after worth that we'll willingly watch the couple overcome. Bros combines all those elements into a charming, rollercoaster of a journey. The film, directed by Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and co-written by Stoller and lead Billy Eichner is ground-breaking in its all-LGBTQ+ cast and in centering two gay leads without the plot rising out of struggles with their sexuality. But that isn’t what makes this whip-smart rom-com, about two commitment-phobes colliding, so damn entertaining.
Eichner (Parks and Recreation, Bob's Burgers) stars as forty-something Bobby Lieber, a Manhattanite who makes a living as a podcaster and head curator of what will be the first LGBTQ+ history museum. Liber is snarky, self-deprecating and relationship-phobic. He’s proudly single and on the perpetual hook-up circuit until an encounter with Aaron (Luke McFarlane), a hot probate attorney, while out at a club.
While not every queer cultural reference will be immediately accessible to a wider audience, Bros isn’t a “niche” comedy either. Stoller and Eichner lean into the rom-com roadmap. Aaron is sexually confident but confines himself to more mainstream lifestyle choices. He’s into CrossFit, country music, and "shmedium" t-shirts. On the surface, he’s part of the “bro” contingent, big on looks but not so much else. Bobby, on the other hand, leads with his snark and sharp edges. He’s prone to saying what he means, he's never met a diva he couldn’t gush about and stays ready to "serve up the bitchy". It’s not a full enemies-to-friends meet-cute, but the massive difference in their energy and the awkward (sexual) tension between the two may cause viewers to have a flashback. What follows is quite possibly one of the best rom-coms based on an original story (here’s your reminder to go watch Fire Island on Hulu/Disney Plus) since 2019’s Long Shot. It's poignant, insightful, self-aware, unapologetically gay and flat-out funny.
Bros relies on the kind of slice-of-life moments that showcase the best, and worst, of both its leads. Bobby and Aaron are emotionally unavailable messes, with a capital M. Watching them navigate their feelings — bad man dancing and all — reveals the soft heart beating behind the witty quips, notable cameos, and pop-culture deep cuts. There’s a natural rhythm to their relationship that carries the plot progression forward without feeling overdone. For every laugh or romp in bed, there’s a moment of vulnerability. A special highlight is how Bros integrates sex and intimacy into the storyline. If you’re (still) laboring under the belief these are the same, Bros is here to disabuse you of that notion — never shying away from showing skin but never being gratuitous or overly explicit.
Bros presents the story of Bobby and Aaron in a way that showcases both the truth and hypocrisy of the “love is love is love” rhetoric and creates opportunities to mirror some of the best tropes rom-coms offer. Prepare yourself for the tearful crying scene, Grindr culture, come-to-Jesus conversations and those short-sighted decisions certain to spell disaster. Do expect the standard rom-com time-lapse montage of warm and tender moments. The extreme relatableness of its main characters — and the supporting cast — may be the initial draw, but it's the realness of the struggle Bobby and Aaron have with accepting themselves and their feelings, that’ll keep you engaged right through to the end.
When all is said and done, Bros is utterly charming — even at its most ridiculous. It brings audiences in on the joke while putting them through the emotional ringer. And yes, that’s a good thing.
Bros premieres in US theaters, on September 30. It's released in the UK on October 28, 2022.
Ro is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film/tv critic, writer and host on several of the MTR Network's podcasts. She's a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Online Association of Female Film Critics. She's a former culture columnist for San Diego CityBeat (may it rest in peace) with a serious addiction to genre fiction, horror and documentaries. You can find her sharing movie and book recs and random thoughts, on her podcast I Talk Sh!t and Read or in her newsletter, Shelf Envy.