The 2022 comedy film ‘Fire Island’ is an ‘ABCDD’ cocktail – it’s all about asses, bitches, crop-tops, drugs and drama. And a little bit about love. It’s supposed to be a modern lgbt+ re-imagination of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, so there’s literal pride (of both kinds) and a whole lot of prejudice on display through the story.
Directed by Andrew Ahn and written by Joel Kim Booster who also plays lead Noah, this comedy is about a bunch of gay best-friends holidaying for a whole week in Fire Island, which is known to be home to America’s ‘first gay and lesbian town’. Noah makes it his business to get best-friend Howie (Bowen Yang) laid during the trip, but it’s not going to be easy because Howie believes in romance and grand gestures, while most people on the Island are looking for a quick bang for their buck.
So where does the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ bit come in? Well, Howie gets noticed by the wealthy handsome Charlie, but his successful lawyer friend Will (Conrad Ricamora) looks down upon Howie’s squad as ‘white trash’. The story is filled with a lot of queer stereotypes, although Joel Kim Booster does attempt to show different personality types through the runtime. His character Noah for example is an interesting contradiction of sorts, on one hand he is a regular extroverted fuckboy with a fit gym bod, who uses Grinder even at a club surrounded by hot men, but is shown to have a ‘deeper’ side – he can quote from classics and offer literary criticism. Because apparently a person’s intellectual competency is measured by their ability to read and understand an old book. Conrad Ricamora plays the potential love interest, and his lawyer character is the typical “broody snooty rich dude with a soft heart”.
‘Fire Island’ is just a quick little dive into a gay holiday, with a lot of drama, bitch-fights, parties and drugs. The story-telling is slightly contrived, the characters are caricature like, and since this is supposed to be a comedy, maybe it was intentional. But the film isn’t as hilarious as it could’ve been, and gets into a lot of issues it cannot do justice too, making the runtime lengthier than necessary. The makers dispel the notion some might have of the lgbt+ community to be one big happy supportive family that’s all about pride parades and rainbows. In reality there’s an invisible hierarchy of ‘types’ and expectations from how each of those types should behave, which can be extremely damaging to some.
As far as acting goes, Joel just doesn’t have lead material charm, even though he looks like it. Nobody in the cast really stands out. Although Bowen Yang is quite likable as the shy, old-school Howie. Overall, this is like one of those superficial rom-com movies that makes for a fun and forgettable watch with friends. A runtime as short as the cast’s hot-pants/crops tops would’ve helped. It’s a 5/10 from me.
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