You may cringe at the term ‘bromance’, but if someone asks if you like bromance movies, you will absolutely say yes. Quite unlike romantic comedies — which focus on the female and 99.9% of the time suck major ass — the bromance comedies are those R-rated gems about dudes hanging out with other dudes, banging chicks (or trying to bang chicks), getting drunk, smoking weed, and partaking in lots of dirty comedy. We have loved these movies since we have been watching movies and we watch them over-and-over again, but the ‘bromance’ term was not dropped until a few years ago when the Judd Apatow factory started cranking out R-rated guy hits. These movies have made so much of an impact, in fact, that some of you have even thought about putting pen to paper and scripting out the next blockbuster bromance. But before you plop your ass down to get your R-rated Shakespeare on, here are a few key points you need to hit in order to make sure your bro-love comedy is a massive hit.
Remember who you are writing for. This is a film that will get guys out of a horrible situation, because now they can offer to take their girlfriend/wife to your bromance movie and she won’t put up a fight. She’ll see the trailer and think there is a chance at a solid love story on screen with some laughs along the way. Let her believe that. Most of us have been dragged to countless romantic comedies or sappy dramas over the years so our lady companion can get her love story fix. And we agree in hopes of some below-the-waist stuff from her later. Luckily, the bromance was created to let us have our proverbial cake and eat it, too. They are filled with laughs, guys being guys, sex, booze, and boobs. And it has enough of a love story so as not to make your girl hate you for making her watch it. Remember all of this when structuring your own bromance. Ultimately you’re doing this for your fellow bros…just like all the other great bromances.
Dudes Who Really Need the Bromance Movie: Dudes that were dragged to Sandra Bullock’s last two movies; the dude that knows who Debra Messing is — and he’s not gay; the dude who was a shoulder to cry on during Sex & the City 2.
While the romantic comedy usually casts a guy like Matthew McConaughey to take his shirt off in the lead actor role, the bromance casts guys who are pretty much like 85% of the guy population. Not very attractive and kind of mediocre at everyday life. So it’s important to write a lead actor that is dorky and not naturally smooth. We should be able to believe he is working a crappy job that he hates and has eccentric, semi-loser friends that are somehow wiser than he. You want to write a Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, or Steve Carell. Scripting a lead stud patterned after a Hugh Jackman or Colin Farrell type to anchor your bromance movie will doom it to be dumbed down and thrust into the romantic comedy pile of crap that will be all about the chick and her everlasting struggle for true love. Gag.
The Next Bromance Lead Actor: Jack Black; Rainn Wilson; Dan Fogler; Patton Oswalt; Zach Galifianakis.
Writing the proper confidant for your schlubby lead is perhaps one of the most crucial ingredients to a kickass bromance. The friend(s) will have minimal screen time, but will have the lines and moments we love to quote and rehash (oftentimes, to the point of annoyance to those around us, but screw them). Knocked Up had the group of friends that sat around their house smoking weed all day and The 40-Year-Old Virgin had a group of co-worker friends that were mostly just f*cking with Steve Carell. Jason Segal had his step brother in Forgetting Sarah Marshall who had some bitchin’ lines (“I have no qualms with sticking you! I will equalize you!”). But perhaps the king of the bromance friends would be the Old School crew. Frank the Tank and Company are exactly like dudes we all know and love in real life. Actually, some of you are Frank the Tank, which makes you awesome. So remember that the surrounding cast are just dudes you may not personally count as friends, but would certainly show up to the party they were hosting. Put those dudes around your lead bromancer and the good times will practically write themselves.
Bromance Friends to Have (aka, write into the script): Friends that don’t mind an illegal substance or two; friends that like to talk about threesomes; friends that don’t talk about being responsible and other adult sh*t.
There has to be the moment in the movie where our hero hooks up with the girl he has had his eye on. Scratch that. He at least needs to hook-up with some chick. That’s a must. If it is with the girl he wants to be with, great, but the coming together of dude and chick needs to happen. But here’s the important part of the hook-up: it’s rarely sweet, cute, or sexy. It’s usually quite the opposite — proving to us dudes that we’re not crazy and the fumbling around is par for the sex course (please back me up on this). No guy wants to sit and watch some sappy love scene of a dorky dude hooking-up. What we do want to see is a dorky dude bumbling his way through sex — like so many of us have. If there can be boobs showcased during this scene, you have just written a homerun piece of literature.
Hook-Up Scenes to Emulate: Knocked Up’s “Just do it already” sex scene; the conceiving of Clark Duke in Hot Tub Time Machine; Favreau stopping the action to make a phone call in Swingers; Endless scenes in The 40 Year-Old Virgin
The moments where your hero hangs out with his friend, a group of friends, family, or new acquaintances, is another important part of your bromance. Your guy may be drinking in a hot tub (Hot Tub Time Machine) or playing cards with his co-workers (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), but the bonding moment has to happen. It is also during these moments where the group or friend will find out something about the main character that will lead to the movie being propelled forward. Or a moment will happen during this scene that will cause the friend(s) to push the lead guy into doing something. And hilarity will ensue. In Knocked Up, Seth Rogen is smoking weed with his friends when he gets the email to call that chick on “Grey’s Anatomy” so they can meet up for dinner. This obviously goes into the scene where dough boy finds out she is pregnant. But during the call, Rogen’s friends mime sex acts on one another, furthering their friend bond, making us laugh, but also not annoying the ladies because they think it’s sweet that the guy actually did call her.
Good Bonding Examples: The group vows to get Steve Carell laid while playing poker in The 40-Year-Old Virgin; Harold and Kumar get hungry while blazing a few; in Dumb & Dumber, they decide to go to Aspen (“a place where the beer flows like wine”) while hanging out and rehashing their day.
You never see the main character have a job he likes. In fact, he generally hates it or is at least really bad at it. In Role Models Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are traveling energy drink salesmen that drive a truck with bull horns on it and one of them has to wear a minotaur costume — which is uber-sucky. Office Space was a bromance built completely around hating their job. Luke Wilson worked some sort of crappy real estate job in Old School and Paul Rudd sucked at trying to sell Lou Ferrigno’s house in I Love You, Man. The object of the job is not to find some exotic or rare job for your character to have like most movies do. A down on his luck loser would never have a cool job. The job you want for your bromance is the shitty job you are likely working right now. The kind of job that makes you fantasize about going to med school. Not something glamorous, like blogging.
Job Possibilities: Something to do with insurance; selling furniture door-to-door; grocery store management must be pretty shitty.
Sure, it could be a breakup with the girl the lead character gets with, but bromances work best when the breakup is with another bro. The Wedding Crashers split of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn is a great example of a dude split. What makes it work even better is that Owen was kinda’ in anothe break up at the same time with that brunette chick who he wasn’t even technically with. A double breakup?! Yes, it was indeed, and it worked well enough to make the producers filthy rich. The breakup usually occurs when one of the friends gets fed up with the situation and decides to be brutally honest with the other friend. This causes the offended dude to retaliate, resulting in a string of verbal barbs that neither one of them would normally say. It’s kind of like what chicks do in everyday life, except with guys saying the lines. After declaring their hatred for one another, the two friends will spend some time apart and you’ll need to show them trying to be their own man — without much success. They will come to realize they are not complete without their friend and this will set up the obvious reconciliation that we only care about if the scene is accompanied by a hefty portion of poop jokes. Note: the getting back together can also be applied if the breakup is with a girl. But a bro break is much funnier.
Good Bro Break Ups (& Getting Back Together): Paul Rudd and Jason Segal in I Love You, Man; Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb & Dumber; Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in Superbad.
There is always a married guy or a guy with a girlfriend who talks a big game and is the go-to guy when there’s sex to be talked about. But in reality, he’s a loya family guy…or just a totally whipped guy with a controlling girlfriend. Much like all of us poor whippees that get forced to see a romantic comedy with their girl every weekend and have to sneak two flasks into the theater (instead of the usual one flask) just to keep from stabbing someone. The big talkin’ friend of your bromance hero can be in the form of a Vince Vaughn (Old School), a Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), or Romany Malco in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Whomever the guy may be, they will play a key role in pushing your Seth Rogen-type character to doing what he is doing (starting a fraternity, getting laid, etc.). Make sure to portray the guy as a loud mouthed doesn’t-give-a-damn-about-others asshole. You may or may not want to reveal he is committed to someone up front, but that isn’t a big deal. All your female audience wants is to believe that guys can still be the party animals while also remaining faithful. Whatever gets them through the day…
Characters Like This: Have a small penis; Are usually a middle child; Were likely raised in a the Midwest.
Of course, we love to laugh at the stuff your parents would blush at. The ‘R’ rating stands for ‘raunchy’ when it comes to a successful bromance movie and it’s also what keeps us coming back to view it a second, third, and a drunken fourth time. We’re talking raunch of the semen and vomit variety…in no particular order. The recent string of bromances has heaped the gross out humor upon us and sprinkled in a nice dose of profanity along with it. And we couldn’t be happier. If you think it’s too much or you are pushing the limits, you probably have something worthwhile. Pile on the filth and you will have guys laughing — which adds up to a monster hit for your bromance. Keep your mind in the gutter, friend.
Not Off-Limits: Cow genitalia; stool sample sight gags; sex with horny elderly folks.
Any rules to add to the list? Let me know in the comments section.