by Julian Spivey
Director: Andrew Ahn
Starring: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang and Conrad Ricamora
Runtime: 1 hour & 45 minutes
If you’re looking for a fun gay rom-com to celebrate Pride Month with “Fire Island,” directed by Andrew Ahn, which premiered on Hulu on Friday, June 3 might be up your alley.
“Fire Island” is the brain child of comedian/actor Joel Kim Booster, who not only wrote the screenplay for the film but also stars in the lead role as Noah. Now “Fire Island” is basically a modern, gay telling of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice from what I understand but being the uncultured swine I am I can’t really tell you the ins and outs of how – but I didn’t need to know anything about Pride and Prejudice to still enjoy the movie. It seems that Booster’s Noah is a stand-in for Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, his best friend in the film Howie (played by Bowen Yang) is Jane Bennet and Will (played by Conrad Ricamora) is Mr. Darcy.
A group of friends led by Noah and Howie embark on a weeklong vacation to Fire Island, a famous gay escape destination of the southern shore of Long Island. Most of the group goes to party and get laid, but on this trip which seemingly will be the group’s last because their crash pad owned by their lesbian friend (and mother-like figure) Erin (played by Margaret Cho) will need to be sold as she’s out of money, Noah decides that he’s not getting laid until he ensures his BFF Howie does first. Howie isn’t as outgoing as Noah and much of the rest of their friend group and is looking more for the kind of long term relationship like you’d find in a rom-com than the kind of lusty adventurous found on Fire Island.
Howie quickly falls for Charlie (played by James Scully), a rich white doctor seemingly out of his league (apparently a stand-in for Charles Bingley in Austen’s novel). Charlie’s best friend is Will, an uptight lawyer who seems to be the only one not having fun on Fire Island. Will is looking out for his friend’s best interests and immediately rubs Noah the wrong way.
“Fire Island” is filled with many laughs and raunchy antics from the guys throughout, but what stood out to be almost from the very beginning was the sweetness involved – a necessity for a rom-com – both in the friendship of Noah and Howie, and especially later on when it becomes obvious there are feelings between Noah and Will.
I think the thing that stands out the most about “Fire Island,” and maybe this is something that would need to be confirmed by a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, is that it’s a mainstream (produced by Searchlight Pictures and distributed by - wait this can’t be right, can it? – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) rom-com featuring a cast of entirely gay actors and actresses and is super gay in every way. It wasn’t all that long ago that a movie like this would’ve certainly had to have gone the independent route to be made and released. Now all you have to have is a Hulu subscription.