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Bros Before Hos
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by Jay Seaver

"Crude, rude, and pretty damn funny."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I wasn't really looking forward to this one, having kind of hated the first "New Kids" movie enough to skip the second, but it was the only English-friendly thing playing and I wanted to see what came after, so I stuck around. I'm glad I did; it's a fun romantic comedy even if its sweetness can sometimes be buried deep underneath quite the crude exterior.

The "bros" of the title are Max (Tim Haars) and Jules (Daniel Arends), who made a promise as kids to never commit to any woman. They're still getting more action than one might expect of a video store clerk and a supermarket manager, and it would seem like things would keep going on that way until Anna (Sylvia Hoeks) appears. Max feels an immediate connection, but Jules gets there first, and rather than a simple one-night stand, he keeps going out with her, leaving Tom with dueling feelings of envy and portrayal.

As immature as that description makes the brothers sound, it doesn't really scratch the surface - there's also their friend Rene (Henry Van Loon), joining in with the man-child banter, the sex-obsessed autistic guy at the mental health institution where Anna works, and general vulgarity that is mostly delivered with the sort of wide smile that (mostly) lets the audience buy into it coming from a place of immaturity rather than true disdain or malice. I think it might have been better with about 80% less guys calling each other "niggah", "bitch", and "faggot"; though filmmakers Steffen Haars & Flip van der Kuil are likely going for a gag of how it makes them looking stupid, they play it exuberantly enough that it's easy to miss the irony. On balance, the Farrelly Brothers-and-then-some enthusiasm generally wins out, even if you might want the characters to be called out as the movie starts needing charm toward the end.

That enthusiasm is generally put to pretty good use; there are some riotously funny gags in this movie, many of which don't rely on simple obnoxiousness. The abrasiveness never wanes, but Haars & van der Kuil are pretty good at setting up an absurd situation and escalating, whether it be the futility of continuing to operate a video store in the 2010s or Rene's tendency toward injury, never afraid to go for the really big laughs. They can get stuck in a "reference-as-joke" rut, although to their credit they seldom go strictly with "hey, I played Duck Hunt in the 1980s too - isn't that wacky?"

It also doesn't hurt that the couple the audience wants, Max and Anna, are played by a couple of very appealing pair in Tim Haars and Sylvia Hoeks. Haars (co-director Steffen's brother) manages the neat trick of being right there with his co-stars in terms of being obnoxious but adding just enough sad sack to make Max's growing up just enough to connect with Anna seem both within the realm of possibility and worth rooting for. Hoeks takes a kind of standard "nerd fantasy woman" part and makes it feel like someone you might actually meet; she plays Anna as bit more centered than the boys but still very much in the mistake-making phase of her life - not that much more advanced than the idiots we see attracted to her. Daniel Arends, on the other hand, dives into his character being a spectacular jackass and gets a lot of laughs for how he barrels forward that way. Henry Van Loon goes the other way as the hopeless victim of whatever can go wrong, while Theo Massen steals a lot of scenes as the deadpan, married security guard at Anna's work who is also nursing a massive crush on her because how can one not?

"Bros Before Hos" is a comedy of morons where, if you're in the wrong mood when seeing it, the filmmakers' seeming attempts to have their cake and eat it too - "Max & Jules need to grow out of their misogyny - but isn't it funny?" - can rub you the wrong way (and there's nothing wrong with that state of mind being a basic attitude rather than a mood). Like the Farrellys, their hearts are generally close enough to the right place for the funny to outpace the uncomfortable by a lot, and the fact that they get giant laughs rather than little ones certainly helps as well.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27290&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/07/14 16:48:29
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2014 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

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Directed by
  Steffen Haars
  Flip Van der Kuil

Written by
  Steffen Haars
  Flip Van der Kuil

Cast
  Daniel Arends
  Tim Haars
  Sylvia Hoeks



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