The “bro-mance” is a new genre that has gained popularity in the last few years. The genre has been made popular by director Judd Apatow of Freaks and Greeks, Superbad and Pineapple Express fame. The bromance explores homosociality and male bonding through the medium of comedy. The film genre takes a look at masculine ways of bonding while using the trope of heterosexual romcoms, poking fun as masculine conventions all the while praising them.
I Love You, Man, a great example of the bromance ( and one of my personal favorites), is a story about a man, Peter Klaven, a guy who is not stereotypically masculine, who becomes engaged to his girlfriend, Zooey. She has a gaggle of girlfriends to be her bridesmaids, but Peter is virtually friendless. The film centers on Peter’s search for males friends, going on “man-dates,” and eventually finding a best friend, Sydney. I Love You, Man follows the plot line of the typical romantic comedy, portraying the development of Peter and Sydney’s friendship similarly to the unfolding of a hetero-romantic relationship: the unexpected meeting, the awkward first “date,” the montage of fun times which eventually leads to the inevitable falling out, and finally the emotional reunion and happy ending.
The interesting thing about the bromance is how it plays on heterosexual romantic comedy conventions, flipping them on their head by putting male heterosexual friends into the lead roles. There is always tension in these films, though, because the men’s friendship parodies hetero romance while exploring male bonding and the difficulties men may experience while trying to make new friends. The film portrays not only homosocial bonding but also masculine interest. Peter is fascinated by Sydney. In the scene where they meet at Peter’s open house, Sydney busts a prospective buyer as a fake and admits to Peter that he only goes to open houses to pick up rich women and eat the free food. Peter becomes interested in Sydney’s carefree masculine demeanor and bachelor life style. This draws him to call Sydney and to begin their friendship where they engage in stereotypical masculine activities of “snaking cold cruisers,” jamming to Rush, and yelling under bridges, and Peter, for the first time, starts to engage in these masculine behaviours.
Towards the end of the film, Zooey and Peter experience relationship problems because Peter is constantly bro-ing down with Sydney, but in the end (like all good comedies ;) ) they all make up. This points to some interesting tensions. How much is too much masculine bonding in the context of adult men in hetero relationships? To what extent does this movie praise masculine bonding and homosociality and how much does it poke fun at it?