Bros mirrors Eichner’s commentary about it, where Bobby subs in for the movie itself and Aaron is the audience Eichner wishes he had. To be around Bobby is exhausting, obsessed as he is with tying every remark into the political, which inevitably leads into his own peeves and personal grievances. Eichner’s persona is incredibly confrontational in many of his roles, and while the volume is turned down here, he’s just as in-your-face as he is when he’s accosting Brooklyn pedestrians about tabloid gossip. The film views him as passionate but he comes off as narrow. Despite this, Bros imagines time in Bobby’s presence as a public service, such that Aaron is so grateful to learn at Bobby’s feet. Stoller and Eichner put this metaphor for how they hoped their film would be received onscreen, and watching their dreams of thankful and enlightened audiences streaming out of theaters evaporate into nothing is pathetic.
The response to Bros would be less pathetic and more disappointing if it had a take worth remarking on. Bobby has made himself into a Dan Savage type podcasting magnate, but why is he popular? Why him instead of hundreds of other people with a microphone and a closet? The film has no idea why Bobby’s successful nor many ideas in general. It’s not much of a commentary on gay culture, despite the presence of these mechanical, passionless hook-ups that come off as barely more pleasurable than masturbation. Nothing either on the physicality and body issues lurking under the surface of this particular milieu, where the perfectly healthy Bobby gets called frail and everybody uses steroids. Nothing on the lofty class status of Bobby and his peers. Bros doesn’t have a satirical bone in its body, leaving only its desire to be a rom com, but between two gay men. This film spawned a dawning realization that I hate the rom com formula, a formula that can be hidden behind charismatic leads but is evident here between the strident Bobby and the milquetoast Aaron. If new identity groups are going to ape this formula, can they at least comment on it or do something different with it? Instead of unique ideas, Bros just steals from the banal culture that it otherwise has contempt for.
Bros simply fails as a romance and as a comedy. Stoller has had plenty of success with Apatow stable comedies in the past, but here, I can’t remember any jokes that weren’t in the trailer. The joke that rings out the most is one that Chris Rock made about living in a cul de sac with Shaq, Mary J Blige, and a white dentist. Per Rock, Black people will have made it as a group when they don’t have to be a generational talent to live in a wealthy neighborhood. They can just be a dentist. Growing backlash indicates that the LGBT community, especially the T, are not fully ensconced within the legal framework of the country, but at least within the entertainment world, they’ve comfortably settled into the cul de sac. Despite how unpleasant and empty an experience it is, Bros isn’t going to have anyone filing eviction papers. That’s something, at least. D