Within the last decade or so the film world has really fallen in love with men behaving badly movies. This has given birth to the Hangover series, Judd Apatow’s and Seth MacFarlane’s careers and most teen films coming out today. The philosophy of these films is the crasser and grosser the better or funnier. While 15-year-old boys and those with a diminished capacity for thought might enjoy this kind of film over and over most of us were kind of done after the first Hangover.
Leave it to European filmmakers to come in and show Americans how this genre should be done. Dutch comedic directors Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kuil are back and with a mash up of rom-com and guy comedy. Meaning it is disgusting and infantile through most of it though there are several genuine moments where the romance aspect is allowed to come through. Though that is usually quickly shut down before it was to get to girly or truly emotional. This is far from a perfect film…maybe not even a good one. And yet despite this it was a fun watch.
Max and Jules are brothers. Jules was adopted. When they were young their mother and father go through an ugly divorce. While living through it the two siblings make a pact that they will never, ever have a relationship so they don’t have to go through what their parents did.
Now as grownups the two brothers are living together and Max (Tim Haars – New Kids Nitro, New Kids Turbo) works in a video store while Jules (Daniël Arends – first film) is an assistant manager at a supermarket. Most guys looking at their lives would say they have it made. No real responsibilities or stressful jobs and they party hard and pick up women. Life is good for Max and Jules. That is until Anna (Sylvia Hoeks) walks into it.
One night a woman walks into the video store. Max is taken with her. There is something different about her than all the other women he just wants to bed. Later that evening when Max comes home he finds that Anna is there and that she has slept with Jules. Disappointed, Max believes that she is going to be like the dozens of other girls and be gone from Jules’ life as quickly as she entered it. Such is not the case. Anna is back the next night though Jules says it is just for farewell sex. It becomes quickly apparent to everyone that Anna and Jules are in a relationship.
Max’s life changes as he does not have his party buddy and his mind continuously wanders to Anna. He is pissed at his brother for breaking the pact, but Jules just said that one of them would have eventually.
After spending some time alone with Anna at an amusement park she and Max end up kissing. Max is hopefully and most definitely in love. Still Jules tells him that he and Anna are moving in together. Really desperate Max tells Jules he is in love with Anna. The two brothers fight. What is going to be the solution when two brothers fall in love with the same woman?
The two directors have built quite a reputation in their own country (and with Fantasia attendees) with their New Kids television series and subsequent films. Theirs is a crazy, immature and high energy type product. Bros Before Hos (you must have known what type of film you were getting yourself into with a title like that) is no different. The humour in the film is rude, vulgar and definitely not politically correct. The two main characters commit every behavioural faux pas known to man. To enjoy this film it is required that you have an odd and twisted sense of humour as it is not for the faint of heart.
Thankfully I do possess a rather left of center sense of humour and relish immature humour if done correctly. Haars and Van der Kuil do it right. They go so far you know that they know they’ve gone too far and that is the funny part. They don’t give a hoot. Even the characters themselves seem to know that the way they behave is ridiculous. I don’t think the directors want us to believe that they are making a film with realistic characters. The level of misogyny, juvenile behaviour, humour at the expense of the mentally challenged is just so over the top it cannot be anything else. They are taking the piss out of similar films. If they have to go way past they accepted standards of acceptable behaviour to do so? So be it.
The story is rather predictable though that is not really unexpected in the rom-com genre, is it? The genre has a series of plot devices that you have to check off if you want to qualify as a member of the category. Only the rare few can manage some originality and this is most certainly not up to that level. It is usually in the most typical romantic moments in which the film becomes its most annoying. When that happens, though, the two directors pluck it from the fire by throwing in some disgusting humour bit. As for the comedy it is all slapstick, rude jokes, bodily fluids, and the like. While a lot of it goes too far most of it works. Bottom line is that I laughed more often than not.
It isn’t a classic, but it is rather entertaining for those who don’t mind gross out humour.