LGBTQ stories have, until recently, remained within the independently-produced space. Call Me by Your Name and Brokeback Mountain are two titles that have reached mainstream consciousness, having been put out by their respective studios’ indie labels. These films typically do not have the marketing budgets to reach a wider audience, nor are they intended to. However, Universal, Billy Eichner, Nicholas Stoller, and Judd Apatow challenge you this weekend with Bros, touted as the first mainstream LGBTQ movie released by a major studio.

Eichner, who stars as Bobby Lieber, co-wrote the screenplay with director Nicholas Stoller. Bobby is out and proud. In a very human twist, though, he is also scared and self-doubting. Bobby is on the cusp of opening a museum dedicated to LGBTQ history in New York City. He has friends and is exceptionally judgmental. That is until he meets Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), considered unobtainable in the community.

Stoller and Eichner explore the confluence of emotions that drive Bobby in a sequence from early in the film at a happening nightspot. Ironically, from his lofty perch above the dance floor, he and the party’s host sit in judgment as Aaron catches his eye. The dialogue certainly fits how we interact within the community; we are fearful and self-doubting, but when passing judgment, we can just as quickly be flippant and dismissive with laughs. Bros ring valid in mating rituals.

Yet, when time is taken to explore what each party brings to the relationship, we find that love is a universal trait when we’re not in each other’s pants.

Stoller uses character to develop a formulary love story in Bros: boy meets boy, boy feels he isn’t good enough for the other, and in the process, realizes that they need each other more than the other initially is willing to accept, accepts the choices they’ve made that brought them to that point in their respective lives, meets the other’s parents, overcomplicates the meeting leading to an eventual break-up and then they live happily ever after.

From this perspective, Bros plays like a fairy tale and a darned good one. The laughs are genuine, as are the experiences. The one thing to take away from the movie, though, is that, no matter how you identify or on which side of the spectrum you’re on, Stoller and Eichner go to lengths to make sure that the story is as universal as possible (please pardon the pun, Comcast.)

Why, might you ask, is this an important quality? Bros tries to balance a formulary story with a universal truth – love is love. We might object to LGBTQ love in a political or religious sense, but humans have an innate sense of attracting a partner when we least expect it or when we are most vulnerable. That vulnerability is the equalizing force within matchmaking. It isn’t something we can force; it isn’t something we can predict. Choices, needs, and wants play a considerable part in the experience.

Experience can best sum up what Bros is. From a personal perspective, I’ve tried to force relationships and actively searched for a partner, sat in judgment, and given up on the whole experience. That’s not to say that love isn’t in the cards, as they say. Bobby and Aaron are two regular people living in New York City, where the LGBTQ community is accepted with open arms. Buried within our self-doubting, judgemental selves is a repressed need to be wanted, more than just a quickie.

This is where Bros succeeds brilliantly – Eichner and Macfarlane play these characters and their experiences with natural ease. However, within that naturalness and normalcy, there is a bit of a “middle finger” aimed toward the fringe, conservative elements in society to the point where some elements become conservative, feeling as if Stoller didn’t exactly know where that border was.

Bros is not the first LGBTQ film of 2022, but it is undoubtedly aimed at the broadest audience possible. It doesn’t live in a bubble and aims to burst that bubble, to explore the normalcy of what it takes to form a long-lasting gay relationship. Bros proudly wears its universal love on its sleeve.