Bros Review: Billy Eichner Adapts Judd Apatow’s Rom-Com Formula For Gays And It’s Hilarious, Even If It Doesn’t Push The Boundaries – Below The Line

Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane in Brothers/Universal images

The romantic comedies of the prolific director-producer Judd Apatow are the 21st century version of Meg Ryanhits from the early 90s. The protagonist of the producer’s latest project, Brothersis a 40-year-old single gay man who is perpetually frustrated with his celibacy and who telegraphs his generation’s infatuation with the kind of love frequently found in Ryan’s films by watching them repeatedly, whether he feel good or a little depressed.

Billy Eichnerwho wrote the screenplay with the director Nick Stoller, stars, Bobby, who unlike Meg’s iconic heroines, has a very specific reason for constantly denying that she wants to find a man – in the LGBTQ+ world of 2022, relationships come in many shapes, colors and even numbers, and a life of monogamy is not the only flavor of the day. But, just like Meg before him, Bobby, in reality, really Is want to find love…and he’s willing to cut some corners to do so.

In that sense, Bobby is a lot like others in Apatow’s growing library of characters, including the women played by Amy Schumer and Catherine Heigl in Rail accident and knocked up, respectively – supposedly liberated modern beings whose outward rejection of the thunderbolt is actually a facade for a burning desire to find it. The final result ? Brothers is one of the funniest romantic comedies in years, maybe even since You’ve got mailbut it is one that, like so many others in the modern vernacular, revolves around a message that clashes with itself.

The film begins with Bobby – a famous podcaster – being asked by a movie producer to make a romantic comedy about gay people that would be acceptable to straight people. “Love is love,” the producer proclaims, echoing a message embraced by modern, supposedly progressive audiences. “Love is not just love,” protests Bobby. Gay love, he explains, is messy — complicated by steroids, threesomes, throuples, poppers, and ever-changing sex positions. Moreover, homosexuals can be egocentric, superficial and wandering. Relationships in the modern gay world are inherently difficult. (But, isn’t that what Schumer, Heigl, and even Ryan complained about? Aren’t the issues just adorned with a different wrap to cover the same core issues?)

Anyway, Bobby goes out to a nightclub and soon spots Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) over the entire distance. The muscle ox is not only super dreamy, but he’s also a lawyer with a great apartment and a cute hobby that he dreams of pursuing. Perhaps most important is that he is a top. Physically, the two couldn’t be more different, especially when it comes to how they present their sexualities. Bobby is said to be the grand marshal of the Gay Pride Parade, and is actually working on opening an LGBTQ+ history museum, while Aaron would rather “pass by” and “not draw attention to himself”.

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Billy Eichner in Brothers/Universal images

This is a sad truth for many homosexuals and yet, Brothers is nothing if not hilarious. Cameos from celebrities and/or queer allies alone are worth the price of admission. Bowen Yang and Harvey Fierstein play to stay gay as residents of iconic LGBTQ+ beach mecca Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the two look lovely in their limited screen time. There are plenty of other cameos, some well-known, some less so, though I refuse to spoil any of them, as this landmark studio project featuring foursomes and shameless encounters deserves to retain an element of surprise.

The film is also quite original even if the typical romantic comedy formula is followed almost to the end, highlighting the meeting, the love, the breakup and the grand gesture of getting back together. The freshness comes from adapting those old tropes for a gay romance — the loud, proud kind that most moviegoers don’t know compared to films about closeted gay characters struggling with their sexuality.

Bobby’s self-doubt and self-deprecating humor make him both lovable and annoying, like most rom-com leads these days. Meanwhile, Aaron’s attractiveness is the reason to watch him, and the script’s attempts to humanize him seem to fail almost as if on purpose. The formula can be entertaining if it has a twist, and since we rarely see two men in these kinds of situations and the unique characteristics of gay dating haven’t really been shown before, Brothers is inherently fresh from the start. As with most rom-coms, we’re not really here for the production values, and none jump out here, though none bother us either. In place, Brothers goes up and down entirely on the strength of the actors, the persuasiveness of their chemistry, and the comedic timing of the whole thing.

And it rises almost entirely – except when it gets a little soft. One wonders why modern screenwriters feel the need to repudiate love in order to desperately embrace it. There are many explanations, although the psychology is arguably beyond the scope of a movie review. Perhaps Eichner, himself single, feels the need to say, “I don’t really want” something he does, in fact, want but fears he can’t have? Surely that’s Bobby’s motivation, given that he’s surrounded by obnoxiously happy couples, including a couple who used to date atthird person for six months. Of course, this offense is good as far as it goes – after all, Bobby really is showing us that (despite another denial!), gay love is love, because straight women in today’s romantic comedies similarly claim to reject monogamous love in order to strongly embrace it.

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Luke Macfarlane and Billy Eichner in Brothers/Universal images

But betraying pure ideals is one thing. My only trouble with Brothers is when he fully embraces the values ​​of gay community which he claims to despise. Billy despises the cookie-cutter gays, muscle bunnies, and even cisgender white men he plays. He embraces queer culture and alternative lifestyles, as evidenced by the wonderfully diverse cast of queer, trans, and even bisexual people of color who populate his group of friends and the board of his new museum. film reviews Brokeback Mountain for having straight actors play gay characters, and Billy even embarrasses himself by aggressively preaching to Aaron’s mother that kids should be told about gay couples in second grade. These are all wonderfully important – critical, even – messages for our community to embrace and defend.

But Brothers is often too content to simply pay them words. Billy wants a man – a hot, muscular, successful, masculine white guy who plays lots of sports and acts straight. He wants to settle down in a monogamous relationship. He wants to be exactly like those heterosexuals, those heteronormatives that his credo claims to deny. Perhaps there is a larger concept at play – we gays are like straight people, having contradictory and self-effacing opinions and inconsistent positions. We say one thing when we mean another. And that would be fine, except, of course, that Billy starts the movie in rejecting this film producer’s conceit that “love is love”.

In the end, it is therefore not difficult to analyze Brothers. It’s one of the best and funniest romantic comedies I’ve seen on this side. When Harry Met Sally. It’s also, of course, a cinematic landmark when it comes to encouraging heterosexual audiences to embrace gay culture. But a subversive, weird, push-the-envelope, rock-throwing, stonewall-rioting image it’s definitely not.

Grade: B+

Bros had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10 and will be released in US theaters on September 30 by Universal Pictures.

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