Bros ★★

Don’t buy Fire Island from Shein!

Mostly fine and cute, although with a few baffling moments and dead jokes that weigh it down. Eichner is clearly working through some stuff with this in a way that feels somewhat indicative of the psyche of the millennial gay (and even, to some extent, the too-old-for-TikTok-in-high-school zoomer gay). A lost generation above you and a more or less liberated (in a personal sense) generation below you and there you are, hamstrung by a counterfeit adolescence and awkward twenties and fucked up timeline, and you know the official timeline doesn’t mean much but you wonder if maybe it really is better for growing up well-adjusted. I wish it was more Annie Hall than When Harry Met Sally… or Hallmark Channel pastiche; we finally have New Queer Mediocrity, and it’s as slight (and at times, deeply affecting) as you might expect.

On the representation in this. Eichner is telling a very personal story that feels really locked into his own identity, personal experience, and circle, and as such, interiority is mostly reserved for the two principles and the potential sexual partners who happen to look like them. Characters existing outside of that privileged category of characterization work on a spectrum ranging from flat bit parts (q.v. the entire museum board) with maybe a few memorable oneliners to the show-stealing heat check from Bowen Yang. Representation of other groups feels a tad perfunctory; compare this to Fire Island’s characterization, which feels more like an ensemble piece of more uniform characterization, while this overdevelops the two leads at the expense of practically everyone else. So goes the rom-com, but that doesn’t make much of a community, does it?

Something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere is the twink problem in this. Late in the film, our principles agree to a steamy threesome with a character of their same physique only to be interrupted by some poor twink who gets roped into the event. Played for laughs and trying desperately and unsuccessfully to get the attention of the other three, an implicit assumption in this bit is just how incongruous and ridiculous it is that this random man thought he’d have a chance with our principles. Nowhere else does this kind of joke at the expense of a physique type come into play in any of the film’s numerous scenes of group sex or club makeouts, but then again we don’t really see many other physiques here.

In a club scene, twinks and femmes figure in only as comic relief. One dances too flamboyantly, too enthusiastically, to which Eichner’s character says “God, gay guys are so stupid.” Later, leaving the dance floor, a few of the more femme-presenting gays are voguing, blocking Eichner’s path out of the bar as a comedic obstruction. With bodies as abject spectacle or ascribed femininity as comic relief and concentrated queerness, the same internalized homophobia that Eichner’s character attempts to excise from his boyfriend and himself is displaced onto another group one rung down the latter.

No film, specifically in the classical mode and coming out of Hollywood, can be everything to everyone in a group, no matter how much the marketing tells you so. Eichner writes what he knows, and that’s fine and works in some sense, but the positioning of his character as a receptacle for queer history, a conduit for intersectional solidarity, and an activist cherishing a diverse community of chosen family feels disingenuous given the film’s intensely solipsistic preoccupations. It ends where it begins: two men want to fuck and the rest is secondary.

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