Bros – Toronto 2022

Billy Eichner on the set of Bros, directed by Nicholas Stoller. © 2022 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. (Nicole Rivelli/Universal Pictures)

Bros is a desperately needed studio LGBTQ romantic comedy that has been long-overdue for many years at the box office.

It is ridiculously absurd that LGBTQ people still have a hard time seeing themselves in studio comedies. Why is it so hard for studios to make LGBTQ comedies? What makes this film different from Happiest Season is that nobody is going back in the closet, thank G-d. I’ll be happy if I never see another film again where someone forces their partner into the closet because they’re not out to their family. Despite studios changing their social media profile photos in June for Pride Month, it is Universal Pictures rising up to the challenge of releasing an LGBTQ rom-com with an LGBTQ cast. Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller come along for the ride as allies to the LGBTQ community. We’re two years away from the 90th anniversary of It Happened One Night and 2022 marks the first major LGBTQ rom-com about two gay men.

What we see in this film is two men falling in love even though they’re emotionally unavailable. Will they be able to survive relationship when the odds are against them? At first glance, neither multi-hyphenate Bobby Lieber (Billy Eichner) nor estate lawyer Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) even seem right for each other. Aaron keeps ghosting Bobby at the club and they’re just not off on the right foot. Movie law states that they’ll end up together. It’s just a matter of what speedbumps they hit along the way. Beyond the rom-com aspect of the film, it hits everything on the money with regards to he concepts that it satirizes.

When the film does not focus on their budding relationship, we see Bobby hard at work at the LGBTQIA+ Museum. The museum is under construction but there’s no shortage of representation here. Even when a film gathers people from all aspects of the LGBTQ community, nobody can agree on anything. The museum scenes contain some of the funniest things in the film, including a hysterical cameo from Will and Grace‘s Debra Messing.

Late in the film, both Eichner and composer Marc Shaiman enter the Oscar race for Best Original Song. Eichner’s Bobby has written a country song for Aaron, who is a big fan of Garth Brooks. Shaiman has written scores for a number of beloved rom-coms so it’s only natural to see him composing music for this film.

I give Stoller a lot of credit for having the belief in both Billy and in Universal greenlighting the film. Again, studios do not really greenlight LGBTQ comedies. It is a risk that hardly any of them seem willing to take. One would like to think that things could be different but it’s sad when one sets the bar at just meeting the bare minimum. Judd Apatow came on board because he wants to see this kind of film get made. He’s the sort that knows that the studios are not putting enough representation on screen. A film like Bros is a step in the right direction. It’s not awards bait and there’s not a straight actor playing gay, lesbian, or trans in order to draw awards recognition. They hit on this when Bobby and Aaron go on a date to see The Treasure Inside (think Brokeback Mountain).

People need to support this film. Do not wait for it to hit Peacock  because the box office numbers are so important. If people do not turn out at the box office, studios will not make similar films. We’ll have to resort to indie films for seeing LGBTQ movies. It’s sad that we place such a high bar on these films to do well but that’s just the reality of the industry. If you want to see a certain type of film in theaters, you need to support them upon release. I cannot stress this enough.

Prior to attending the Toronto screening, I had the opportunity to check out the Bros-Mobile in Chicago. Having seen three scenes completely out of context, I already knew that Bros is a new hit comedy in the making. Veteran filmmakers Nicholas Stoller and Judd Apatow make sure that the film doesn’t falter. In writing the screenplay, Eichner and Stoller bring their strengths to the process. Straight or LGBTQ, rom-coms traditionally play to the same beats. What makes this film so different is that it’s a breath of fresh air. In other films, some characters might be the one-note LGBTQ side character. But in this film, they aren’t a one-note side character but one that has meaning for the film. I mean, there are those characters who come off as comic relief. I’m looking at you, Steve. You know what you did!

Thank you to Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller for being allies to the LGBTQ community. It isn’t enough to just tweet support for the LGBTQ community but people have to put in the work. I do not know when the next major studio LGBTQ film will come around so thank you.

DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller
SCREENWRITERS: Nicholas Stoller and Billy Eichner
CAST: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Guy Branum, Miss Lawrence, Ts Madison, Dot-Marie Jones, Jim Rash, Eve Lindley, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Jai Rodriuez, and Amanda Bearse

Bros holds its world premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations program. Universal will release the film on September 30, 2022. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.