Bros ★★

Unfortunately it’s impossible to watch this movie now without the knowledge of its disappointing opening weekend and Eichner’s (no relation, although my sister and I have joked that he’s our distant cousin) subsequent hectoring of straight audiences for not buying tickets. That being said, Eichner explicitly placed his movie within the lineage of groundbreaking LGBTQ+ moments both in the script and in the movie’s marketing, thereby setting an unrealistic standard for what’s self-consciously structured as a conventional romcom. Hindsight is 20/20 (as the closing credit song insistently bleats), but it may have been presumptuous for him to assume that his movie would be received with universal praise and box office success by merely showing up.

The movie’s at its best when it’s digging into the specificities of the central relationship. I loved the foreplay in the first sex scene because the rough housing was weird enough to feel true to the couple. That specificity gets lost as the movie grinds towards expected tropes. It’s also got some good jokes, but I wonder if there’s a limit to using niche pop culture references as a comedic device (I frequently rely on niche pop culture references in conversation).

Two elements that didn’t feel interrogated:
1. Bobby’s dream is to open an LGBTQ+ history museum to tell the community’s stories, and yet he takes every opportunity to shift focus back to his relationship woes. During the first Debra Messing scene, this myopia was played for laughs. During the earnest climactic song dedicated to Aaron in the middle of the museum’s opening gala, it was most certainly not.
2. Bobby is part of the LGBTQ+ community, but, because of his whiteness/class/etc., has styled himself as existing apart from or commenting on its seedier or more unconventional elements. He is not unlike Patrick, the protagonist of Looking, in that way. But while Looking seemed aware of Patrick’s faults in that regard, Bros leverages that quality to explain gay culture to a straight audience.

Ultimately the danger of pouring your heart and personality into a movie is that audiences and/or critics can reject it. I don’t fault Billy for trying.

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