by Matt Weiner
Not to go Don Draper over a movie with an extended gag involving a dog and a condom, but Bromates isn’t a buddy comedy… It’s science fiction, letting us travel back to the early 2000s. This is a heady time, where men need a romantic contrivance to show emotion, women are cardboard cutouts and all manner of sin will be forgiven once you put on a shirt with buttons and confess to having “grown up.”
The ties to the past are strong, if not deep, with Bromates writer and director Court Crandall serving as one of the writers for Old School. And Bromates offers a superficial nod to that kind of throwback comedy, only with an even more threadbare setup.
Solar panel salesman Sid (Josh Brener) gets talked into moving in with his close friend Jonesie (Lil Rel Howery, one of the few bright spots in the movie) after both men are dumped by their girlfriends. Sid, consummate nice guy and eco-do-gooder, discovers his influencer girlfriend has been cheating on him with their next-door neighbor. And Jonesie is too immature, although for some reason the story codes “immature” as “hiring a sex worker while his girlfriend is out of the apartment.” (The nerve of that harpy to break up over a peccadillo.)
It’s important to stop here to point out that this is, without exaggeration, the extent of character development we get for the rest of the film. Jonesie concocts a plan to help Sid get over his breakup, there’s an impromptu trip to Texas that takes up a good chunk of the story but seems to exist solely to set up a Snoop Dogg cameo (which at least makes some sense, as he produced the film), and the rest of the time is devoted to Sid’s workplace drama. Also, somewhere along the way, Sid falls in love with a woman who is onscreen for maybe 5 total minutes.
Bromates is less a fleshed-out movie and more a series of bits, tossed out at a pace that feels desperate rather than zany. It’s a pattern that repeats itself so often that it goes from disorienting to discouraging. Nothing gets developed, nothing gets heightened. Ostensibly, this is a movie by people who understand this kind of comedy, but Crandall shows no interest in establishing an internal logic even by the low standards of the tropes the film leans on.
It’s not all bad. There’s an end credits bit that’s funnier and more pointed than what made it into the main movie. Plus the runtime is barely an hour and a half, so you don’t have to wait too long to get there.