Eleven years after his breakthrough via the manic Webby Award-winning comedy game show “Billy on the Street,” gay actor and comic Billy Eichner has come into his own as an actor in “Bros” (Universal). A queer rom-com that is actually both romantic and comedic, Eichner stars in and co-wrote “Bros” with the movie’s straight director Nicholas Stoller.
Eichner brings the “Billy on the Street” energy to Bobby, a single, 40-year-old, gay podcaster (with 1,000,000 subscribers), children’s book author, failed screenwriter, and New York nebbish. Despite his successes, he’s extremely insecure. Because of this character flaw, as well as his quick wit, Bobby is reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer, and the Manhattan setting also feels like a subtle nod to Allen and “Annie Hall.”
Even though he has recently won a big award and accepted a high-ranking position at the future National LGBTQ+ Museum, he feels unfulfilled without a relationship. There are some funny scenes involving hook-up sights that are broad enough for all audiences to understand.
It’s in a gay club, at the launch of one such sight, called Zellweger, that Bobby meets sizzling hot Aaron (Luke MacFarlane). They unexpectedly hit it off, exchanging witty repartee and light flirtation. But Aaron, a lawyer specializing in estate planning, is a fuck-and-run kind of guy, and Bobby wants something more.
Nevertheless, they begin hanging out together (without calling it dating) and their chemistry is palatable. They make each other laugh and they know how to get the other riled up on subjects including movies and music. When Bobby tells his supportive sister Tina (out actress Monica Raymund) and brother-in-law Edgar (out actor Guillermo Diaz) about Aaron, he describes him as a “gay Tom Brady.”
Complications eventually arise. Bobby has no issue with Aaron being the third in a three-way with other guys. But as they begin to get more serious with each other, eventually having sex (in a scene that is both hot and hilarious), Bobby’s attitude changes. When a high school jock buddy of Aaron’s comes out and becomes a presence in their lives, it becomes too much for Bobby, threatening their budding relationship.
Those who first fell in love with MacFarlane during his time ABC series “Brothers and Sisters,” and saw him pop up again prominently in the 2021 Christmas movie “Single All The Way” (as Michael Urie’s love interest), will be delighted to know that not only does he spend a lot of “Bros” half-dressed, but that he also has the chops to play a convincing gay romantic lead.
Like a bulging pair of briefs, “Bros” is tightly packed with content that is entertaining and enlightening. The screenplay incorporates more than just traditional rom-com elements, such as LGBTQ+ history, cultural references, as well as lesbian, bisexual, and trans issues. There are also several high-profile stars, including Harvey Fierstein, Debra Messing, Bowen Yang, Kristen Chenoweth, Ben Stiller, and Amy Schumer, as well as out actor Jai Rodriguez as Aaron’s straight brother Jason and lesbian actor Amanda Bearse as Aaron’s mother Anne. Rating: B