Bromance is the new thing these days. One of the best movies about it is the film “I Love You, Man” that talks frankly about the bromance between to hetero guys. It explores how maybe dudes can now be close buds without being labeled gay or bi.
I saw the movie at a Hollywood screening and found it very funny, enlightening and uncomfortable. The movie is about Paul Rudd’s character Peter realizing that he doesn’t have many close guy friends, like his fiancé has. He goes out and “auditions” guys who may become the best man at his wedding.
Andy Samberg plays Robbie, Peter’s gay brother, and he does it without any stereotype or effemination. In fact, the gay brother has a better relationship with their father than the straight brother. But, Robbie does talk about how easy it is for him to seduce a “heterosexual” guy. He shows how he spots a guy who’s lifting weights at a gym and within seconds, the guy is flirting back.
“Did you see the ring on his finger? He’s married,” Samberg’s character says assuredly. A few scenes later, the “curious” guy is attending the wedding party dinner as Robbie’s date. Now, that guy, in my book, is bisexual, but of course the B word is
never mentioned in the whole movie.
Funny moments happen when Rudd’s character gets misinterpreted. When, for instance, a guy he’s set up with by their mother, leans over and kisses Rudd, the fiancé later notices. He explains, and she’s pretty cool about it, but says, “I can taste the smoke from his cigarettes, he really got in there didn’t he? Did he use tongue?” (Yeah, that’s gross no matter what your persuasion!)
When he finally meets Jason Segel’s character Sydney, Rudd’s character is nervous and almost girly. He comes up with silly nicknames, they hang out persistently, they watch tender movies and at one point Peter notes, “I can’t believe you just touched my balls,” when Sydney was trying to make a point.
We’ve been exposed to Segel before in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” as he was standing bravely in full frontal nakedness while being dumped by his girlfriend. In this one, he is truthful and candid and is on a quest to make sure his new buddy “gets a regular good BJ” from his betrothed.
Even macho bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, (TV’s “Hulk” as they remind everyone in the film) ends up being quick to hug another guy by the end of the movie.
This new phase of brotherly connection is permeating pop culture lately. Just this past week, both “Mad TV” and “Saturday Night Live” had bi-friendly sketches. There were two with Tracy Morgan on “SNL.” In a “Big Love” spoof, Morgan dresses as a woman and the other wives to a Mormon man keep pointing out she’s a man, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the husband.
In the “Astronaut Jones” sketch, Morgan meets up with an alien (ironically, it’s Samberg dressed as a woman) and she says, “We don’t have vaginas. We have what you Earthlings know as a penis, only bigger.” Morgan replies, “Hey, we’re in space, either a penis or a vagina is all good.”
On “Mad TV,” it got crazier, as a carload of frat dudes recover from an all night orgy and suddenly realize that the women they hooked up with left after only five minutes. One said, “That’s not true, I was with a cute little Asian girl” to which Bobby Lee says, “That was me!” Then, they try to rationalize, saying that they’re proud they looked like an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.
Another guy says, “Me pleasuring myself in the corner watching you was a way of expressing brotherhood.” Another says, “Your mouth on me was a way of saying, ‘What’s up bro?'”
Finally, one says, “Can’t we just admit that we loved each other?” The cries from the other guys protest, “No! No!”
Then, another guy points out the window and says, “There’s a hotel over there. Do you guys want to go ‘bro out’?” They do. (It’s very funny!)
“I Love You, Man” is going to make a lot of guys squirm, but only those who are uncomfortable with their own masculinity. Why can’t guys talk about masturbating? Why can’t guys have intimate conversations like women do? Why can’t they say “I Love You.” Now, maybe they can.
This post-“Brokeback Mountain” era shows that men can be close, and maybe even be tender and loving toward each other, but not necessarily be the Alan Alda wishy-washy guys of the 1970s. And, they don’t have to be gay. But, it does leave an opening to be bi, and there’s the rub . . .