A bromantic comedy is a comedy film genre that takes the formula of the typical "romantic comedy" but focuses on close male friendships.
Bromance, a word that blends the words "brother" and "romance", can be defined as a "close nonsexual friendship between men". A bromantic comedy finds humor in reversing the formula of the typical "romantic comedy". In the film Knocked Up, it is not the man and woman that have the romantic chemistry, but the two men. In I Love You Man, it is not the man and woman (the bride and groom) of the story who fall in love, break up, and then are reunited romantically at the end—but the two male leads. Bromantic comedy films present expressions of male intimacy, while toying with the suggestion of something other than "straight" behavior, and at the same time insisting that such intimacies not be misinterpreted as anything beyond friendship.
The "slovenly hipster" protagonists of the bromantic comedy usually are not mature and are lacking in ambition. They are "beta males" that are into porn and junk food, but they are forced to grow up when they discover "straight arrow" women, children and responsibility. It is a story of "the dissolution of a male pack, the ending of a juvenile male bond," according to David Denby in The New Yorker.
Bromantic comedies contain the concept of a "code" between men: "bros before hos". The idea is that the bonds between men are more significant, stronger, deeper and based on mutual understanding, whereas the bonds between a man and a woman can be capricious, shallow and less satisfying. So, if a man leaves his male friends for a woman, he will eventually be dumped, abandoned, betrayed, and/or dominated. This may be too dark for comedy, so bromantic comedies deal with misogyny with tentativeness. There is often an element in the plot that allows the men to go off on their own, away from the women. Examples of this are the "man cave" of I Love You, Man, or the "mancation" of The Hangover.
According to film scholar Timothy Shary in Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema, a number of films in this genre, like Wedding Crashers, provide a surprising level of bisexuality for its male characters, and a place for more diversified male relationships to exist.
Shakespeare's play, Love's Labor's Lost, provides, in its opening passage, a comedic prototype for the idea of men agreeing to a "code" to sequester themselves and avoid romance with the opposite sex.
Judd Apatow is a prominent director of the bromantic comedy genre. His films The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), and Knocked Up (2007) paved the way for a surge of similar films that were released in the mid-late 2000s. Films from this era found an audience for the comedic depiction of same-sex relationships, something to which male viewers could relate, but which had been overlooked by screenwriters.
Aspects of "bromantic comedies", including male camaraderie, are found in Barry Levinson's 1982 film, Diner. In that film, a group of six male friends struggle with growing up and finding their way in the real world, while they have each other to support them along the way. A similar situation occurs in the films Kicking and Screaming (1995) and The Hangover (2009).
With John Hamburg's I Love You Man the genre seems to have reached a particular apogee, as the film goes very far in its depiction of bromance, while receiving many excellent reviews. In it, Paul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven, who is about to get married to the love of his life, but he realizes that he doesn't have any male friends to serve as the best man at his wedding. Then he meets Jason Segel's character, Sydney, who is friendly and a great complement to Peter, but their bromance starts to impact the groom's relationship with his bride-to-be.
The genre has its critics who accuse it of political incorrectness and a variety of insensitivities, but the films are satires, and in that sense, the exposing of social ills may be considered to have some potentially positive effect. A primary comedic target of the bromantic comedy is the idea that there is a "code" of male behavior that may tend to impede men from relating in a realistic or natural way with both men and women. Using satire and ridicule the films expose the flimsy ideology and the fears that are the basis of such "codes". However, social critic David Hartwell concludes that beneath a facade of progressive and liberating motivation, the bromantic comedy genre is ultimately guilty of "perpetuating the ideologies it is trying (or pretending) to critique."
Themes and elements of bromantic comedies
- Male bonding and homosocial bonding
- Conflicts with heterosexual bonding
- Emphasis of platonic love and rejection of homoeroticism, and deliberate confusion of homosocial/homoerotic relationships
- There is a focus on male self-consciousness.
- An element in the plot that allows the men to go off on their own, away from the women, for example, the "man cave" of I Love You, Man, the males-only vacation of The Hangover, or the wedding activities involving the groomsmen in The Wedding Ringer
- Infantilism of the male characters
- Humor guards the boundary between what is acceptable or unacceptable in a guy's interests
- The humor often extends to being considered "rude" or "raunchy".
- The films may be referred to as "wacky".
- Misogynistic elements are often found in the film narrative
Notable bromantic comedy films
- Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
- Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
- Superbad (2007)
- Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)
- Pineapple Express (2008)
- The Hangover (2009)
- I Love You, Man (2009)
- The Interview (2014)
- The Wedding Ringer (2015)
- Kicking and Screaming (1995)
- Swingers (1996)
- Clerks (1994) and Clerks II (2006)
- Wedding Crashers (2005)
- Step Brothers (2008)
- Pattersen, John. "True Bromance". The Guardian. 10 April 2009
- Bookey, Mike. "Bromantic Comedy: Actors squeeze formulaic plot for all its laughs" The Source Weekly. March 25, 2009.
- Miriam Webster online dictionary
- RAMANUJAM, SRINIVASA. "Coming soon, a 'bromantic' comedy" The Hindu. March 3, 2015.
- DeAngelis, Michael. Reading the Bromance. Homosocial Relationships in Film and Television. Wayne State University Press. 2014. ISBN 9780814338988
- Batyrefa, Amina. "Our romance with the "bromance"; No homo, man." The McGill Daily. January 19, 2013
- "King of bromance: Judd Apatow" Independent. 19 August 2009.
- Denby, David. "A Fine Romance; The new comedy of the sexes". The New Yorker. July 23, 2007.
- Aisenberg, Joseph. Bright Lights Film Journal. July 31, 2009.
- Shary, Timothy, author and editor. Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema. Wayne State University Press (2012) ISBN 978-0814334355
- Text of Love's Labour's Lost at MIT.edu
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Tranquilli, Marrissa. "That Awkward Boredom: A Bromantic Comedy". The Cornell Daily Sun. February 7, 2014
- Woudhuysen, H. R., ed. Love's Labours Lost (London: Arden Shakespeare, 1998): 61.
- Cateridge, James. Film Studies For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons (2015) ISBN 9781118886533 page 120.
- Setoodeh, Ramin. "Isn't It Bromantic?" Newsweek 8 June 2009: 73. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
- Alberti, John (March 2013). "'I Love You, Man': Bromances, the Construction of Masculinity, and the Continuing Evolution of the Romantic Comedy". Quarterly Review of Film and Video. 30 (2): 159–172. doi:10.1080/10509208.2011.575658.
- Filippo, Maria San. The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television. Indiana University Press (2013) ISBN 9780253008923. Page 225-226.
- Stewart, Sara. "'Awkward' Is the Latest Evolution in Bromantic Comedy." New York Post. N.p., 30 Jan. 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.
- Wilonsky, Robert. "I LOVE YOU MAN REACHES BROMANTIC COMEDY'S GREATEST HEIGHTS". The Village Voice. March 18, 2009
- Gleiberman, Owen. "I Love You, Man; review" Entertainment weekly March 18, 2009
- Metacritic. March 2009
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-09. Retrieved 2015-06-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "I Love You, Man; review" Premier Magazine. March 2009
- Viertel, Jack. The Secret Life of the American Musical; How Broadway Shows are Built. Sarah Crichton Books. (2016) ISBN 978-0374256920. page 15
- Freeman, Hadley. "The Once Mighty Bromance is Dead; and Get Hard Killed it". The Guardian. 1 April 2015
- Baumgarten, Marjory. "The Interview; film review" The Austin Chronicle. January 2, 1015
- Garfield, Robert. Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship. Gotham (2015) ISBN 978-1592409044.
- DeAngelis, Michael. Radner, Hillary. Reading the Bromance: Homosocial Relationships in Film and Television. "Grumpy Old Men; Bros Before Hos". Wayne State University Press (2014) ISBN 9780814338995. Page 52.
- Hartwell, David B. True Bromance: Representation of Masculinity and Heteronormative Dominance in the Bromantic Comedy. University of North Texas (2013)
- "The Wedding Ringer Review". IGN. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Gilman, Greg." That Awkward Moment; Reviews: Is This Bromantic Comedy Actually Funny?" The Wrap. January 31, 2014
- Ordona, Michael. "Wedding Ringer review: A bromantic comedy that goes there". SFGate. January 15, 2015.
- DeAngelis, Michael. Reading the Bromance. Homosocial Relationships in Film and Television. Wayne State University Press (2014) ISBN 978-0814338988. According to DeAngelis, a difference between the "buddy film" and the "bromance" narrative is that "women are often treated misogynistically as loving yet controlling and annoying interferences whose demands must always be 'dealt with.'" And later DeAngelis describes this as a structure "central to bromance".
- "Needs More Gay… Bromantic Comedies". The Backlot. January 26, 2011
- Salto, Stephen. "SXSW 2009: THE 'IT' FACTOR; Bromance is in the air at the 'I Love You, Man' panel and 'Moon.'" Independent Film Channel. March 15, 2009
- Moore, Roger. "Movie review: 'Wedding Ringer' is an amusing bromantic comedy." The News & Observer. January 15, 2015
- Bindley, Katherine. "Bromances aren't uncommon as guys delay marriage" The Seattle Times. April 7, 2008.
- Sickels, Robert, D. 100 Entertainers Who Changed America: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture Luminaries. ISBN 9781598848311. page 21