Bros is absolutely, definitively, super-duper okay.
What it doesn’t do is solve the problem it tells us it wants to solve.
The genius of The 40-Year-Old Virgin is that we don’t judge Carell’s character much. One of the clever twists in it, for instance, is that he is the most mature of all of his friends who are not still virgins. He shows a certain fear of finally having sex… but he also pursues it, finding ways to set a pace for himself. But the idea of the film is right there in the title. He must lose his virginity or come up with a great reason not to by the end of the film.
Bros lingers in kind of “whatevs” notion of the 40something gay man who has never settled down. There are a lot of words about how he has come to this moment and plenty of happy distractions from his singledom. But what we get are a series of sequences, some of which are very funny, but no clear idea that drives the movie. One (almost) always wants what is best for the main character. But this guy, Bobby, is about as ambivalent as one can be.
That is the stuff of French cinema, not an American rom-com, gay or straight. But it isn’t really rich enough, as written, to be a French “slice of life” movie either. It’s trying too hard to be funny.
As I watched, I kept feeling like the film was about to tell me something I didn’t already know… even if that something was that I already know what its like to fall and be in love and that doing that while gay is not very different. But it really didn’t deliver on this hope either. I don’t know what, exactly, I was looking for. I just know that I never really found it.
I can easily see how this project blossomed under Judd Apatow, taking Billy Eichner’s ideas and paring him with Nicholas Stoller, who has directed 6 studio-level comedies and written a bunch more. Clearly Eichner and Stoller meshed, as they share screenplay credit. So when it came to choosing a director, why not stick with Nic?
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