There's something kind of sublimely terrible in watching a film this eager - damn near hostile, really - to proclaim itself a triumph for communal progress function so nakedly as an act of narcissistic, individualistic self-regard for its writer-star. The whole thing is pitched in an ongoing, deeply tiresome register of "I'm going to say something mean about myself first, so it seems like I'm being self-loathing, but really it's so I can immediately criticise everybody else for being worse than I am in my infinite self-reflexivity" that's pretty clear from very early on, but I think it really landed for me during a scene where the film jerry-rigs a moral framework to not merely excuse, but actively celebrate the protagonist for being a giant vindictive asshole at dinner. I don't know anything about Billy Eichner other than that, between this and his vocal performance in the remake of The Lion King, I hate his fucking guts, so I should probably be generous and not assume that there's a one-to-one relationship between the film character and the real-world man. Even without that, the film character is dreary, ugly company, and the way the movie is structured entirely around making him seem lovable is rough sledding. As others have pointed out before me, the film doesn't really earn its preening self-regard as The Groundbreaking First Of Anything, but even if it did, I don't see how it could be a successful message movie at the same time it was a delivery system for this protagonist.

That's my second-order problem. My first-order problem is that Bros is a catastrophically ill-made movie. It's one thing for me to feel mildly irritated, as a bisexual man, at the film's arrogant presumption to "speak for me"; as an editor and an editing teacher, I feel personally and viciously attacked by the overwhelming illegibility of the film's cutting pattern. It's never worse than at the very beginning, a truly disorientingly terrible exposition dump that combines the absolute worst kind of "as you all know..." dialogue writing with cross-cutting and insert shots that suggest Nicholas Stoller (not a favorite of mine; I think his films were an early sign of weakness for the Apatow Film Family) and crew have absolutely no understanding that two shots, when placed next to each other, can generate a third meaning, even if that meaning is as superficial as "these two people are looking at each other". It's dutifully and with agonizing literalness illustrating the individual lines of dialogue in the script, but not providing anything like flow, or rhythm, or even storytelling. It improves after this "punchy" opening, but really not by very much; deep into the film something as straightforward as a conversation between two guys sitting next to each other on a couch seems to have taxed the filmmakers' ability to track continuity as hard as they could withstand it.

There aren't really any fundamentals of craft that are well-served here; I think the last time I saw a mainstream, big-budget film that did such a poor job of layering its ADR lines into the sound mix might have been in the 2004 The Phantom of the Opera. The banally ugly cinematography is, in context, a relief; the film isn't pleasant to look at, but it is at least in focus, color-corrected, and never obviously overlit.

I have left it at one full star because, shamefacedly, I did laugh a good few times, though I don't think it was ever once at something Eichner said or did. And the joke I liked the most was when this film, in its overweening attempt to shit on the Hallmark Channel, invented a fake film to make fun of called Home Alone, But with Sarah Paulson, which is hilarious because I would 100 times rather watch that movie than this one.

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