‘Bros’: Love is Not Love


Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane in poster for “Bros.” (Courtesy Universal Pictures)

By Edie Raines, Copy Editor


Billy Eichner becomes “the first openly gay man to co-write and star in his own major studio film” in 2022’s “Bros.” The film depicts the non-traditional love story of two non-committal gay men in New York City. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Eichner and Stoller, the film boasts an impressive crew as well as an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast. Despite several pitfalls that make the “Bros” hard to love, the film is a fun reimagining of heteronormative rom-coms with lots of laughs and lots (and lots) of ridiculously buff men. 

5 White Gay Males … and 5 More White Gay Males

“Bros” is a very cis, white, male, gay movie that loves to talk about how much of a cis, white, male, gay movie it is. At several points in the film, Bobby (Eichner) points out that it was Black trans women who kickstarted the queer movement at Stonewall. It’s wonderful to see a major motion picture recognize the contribution of women like Marsha P. Johnson rather than rewriting history to make white, gay men the only major activists (“Stonewall” got a lot of heat for doing just that in 2015). However, this doesn’t change the fact that all the Black trans women in the movie are only side characters for the two white male leads and have minimal impact on the plot. 

Show Don’t Tell

“Bros” also never allows the viewer to come to their own conclusions about the issues presented. The movie often feels more like a way for Eichner to express his own opinions than a rom-com with political undertones. Bobby regularly goes on long spiels about his disenchantment with gay culture or his anger at straight culture. These spiels suddenly break the immersive spell of cinema and distract you from the story. Sometimes these moments are well connected to the plot, other times they seem forced and the launch back into the story feels awkward. It’s one thing for a movie to have a clear message, it’s another thing for the characters in that movie to explicitly state that message over and over again.

Love is Not Love

And yet, I can’t help but be compelled by a queer movie that finally feels like it was written for queer people (or at least some queer people) and not straight allies. The chemistry between Bobby and Aaron is clear, and their love scenes feel real. At no point is gay sex portrayed as funny in and of itself, though some of the numerous sex scenes in the film are hilarious for other, quite bizarre reasons. 

The film is also an incredibly entertaining pastiche of popular straight romantic movies, particularly, Hallmark Christmas movies. There is a wonderful homage to “You’ve Got Mail” via an unfortunate Grindr experience and Luke Macfarlane, who stars alongside Eichner as Aaron, has actually appeared in nearly a dozen Hallmark movies. This emphasis on media tropes fits well with Bobby’s insistence that being a stereotype is not inherently bad.

The traditional romance of those movies also perfectly juxtaposes the staggered, modernistic depiction of gay relationships and sets up one of the movie’s major themes, that “Love is Not Love.” Billy Eichner rejects respectability politics by refusing to follow the heterocentric love standards of marriage, monogamy and reproduction.

Overall, “Bros” has some major setbacks that would keep me from calling it a particularly well-made movie. However, it shines in other ways, and damn if it isn’t fun, funny and unapologetically queer.


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