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Isn't it bromantic? — or Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?


“Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?”

If the modern woman uttered these lines from her balcony, you can bet your bard Romeo would not be there to hear them. In fact, the modern Romeo would most likely be at his best friend Julian’s place having a few beers while watching `the game’. Sure, it is not the traditional plot of a romance, but stories of a man and woman falling in love are of little importance to cinema audiences these days. The new niche market is man and man love stories.

No, I’m not referring to Brokeback Mountain syndrome, rather the current cinema trend of bromantic comedies. Gone are the days when audiences would fork out their hard earned cash to see any film where Hugh Grant would stutter, twitch and be British for two hours before sweeping the girl off her feet. No longer do people turn to butter at the sight of Julia Roberts flashing her signature smile whilst wondering whether they can climb into her mouth. Instead, audiences now want their romantic comedies served with a large side of testosterone.

Coined in the nineties, the term bromance refers to a close but non-sexual relationship between straight men. The portrayal of this form of homosocial intimacy on the big screen isn’t a new phenomenon. One only has to look at films such as Wayne’s World and Dumb and Dumber for examples of early bromantic comedies, whilst themes of bromance are evident in movies like Good Will Hunting and Clerks. However, only recently has the bromantic comedy formula emerged as a stand-alone genre.

Why, you ask? Blame filmmaker Judd Apatow and his uber-successful films Talladega Nights: The Ballard of Ricky Bobby and Superbad which highlighted the box-office earning potential of the male love story. Initially the first two or three films were a clever twist on the formula of a tired genre; boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back. Yet bromantic comedies are now as frequent as Lindsay Lohan at a bottle shop.

I guess you cannot blame Apatow for every entry into the never-ending stream of bromantic comedies. That would be like blaming George Clooney for Ocean’s Twelve, when really he was only partially responsible. Plus there have been some hilarious films under the bromantic comedy umbrella such as Pineapple Express, The Wedding Crashers and Role Models. But their entertainment value is dimmed under the sheer weight of unoriginal movies raining down.

It is ironic that given bromantic comedies were initially a fresh take on a spent genre, their greatest problem is the same as the original genre from which they were born. After just seven years of mainstream success, already this cinema trend has become generic. All it takes to make and sell one of these films is a blossoming bromance (obviously), two semi-appealing lead actors and a few penis jokes. Done. Before you can say `dude’, males in their teens to late twenties are queued up down the block to see the latest thing they have seen before.

The reality is that as long as the formula continues to create box-office revenue, Hollywood studios will keep pumping out bromantic comedies as often and fast as they can until audiences spontaneously self-combust under the sheer weight of onscreen homosocial intimacy. In the meantime, the success of the genre (within a genre) makes me wonder whether we will see the emergence of a bromantic comedy sub-genre. Perhaps fromantic comedies will be the next big earner. After all, who would not want to watch a love story between two people with Afros? Or perhaps toemantic comedies will take over. A price cannot be put on the entertainment value of seeing two kindred spirits’ united by their love for feet and toes in the manner to which Luis Bunuel was accustomed. It would have my ticket. Oh, what a grande take it would be on the notions of timeless romance.

“Romeo, Romeo, where are thou Romeo?”

Memo to Juliette: he is over at Julian’s placing playing footsy and sucking his toes.

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