Fire Island

Fire Island Movie Review

Streaming on Hulu starting June 3, 2022

 

“Fire Island” is a traditional romantic comedy, updated to be a very non-traditional ‘gay romp’. Take that as meaning that the main characters (looking for love and affection — or least a good hook-up) are all Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, and the like. It is about the LGBTQ & ECT (etc. cetera) crowd bringing new meaning to an old Jane Austen novel. Call this revamping – “Gay Pride and Prejudice”.

 

The main character Noah (played by Joel Kim Booster, who also created the screenplay) is set for an annual trip to Fire Island. Eons ago, the island became a no-judgment zone, where lesbians and gays could meet and have fun without the on looking sneers of the small-minded. Noah and most of his friends are from the New York area. Only his pal Howie (played by Bowen Yang) has moved to the West Coast to work at a start-up. When they all meet at the ferry to Fire Island — he sees Max (played by Torian Miller), Luke (played by Matt Rogers) and Keegan (played by Tomás Matos).

 

These crazy guys spend their time staying with a very close ‘mother’ figure, Erin (played by Margaret Cho). She owns an old house on the island, not one of the newer mansions up on the shoreline. Erin was involved in a (dubious) lawsuit many years ago against a chain restaurant. Her payout went into the fine house on Fire Island. Erin tells all of house guests that this will be the last year of the get-together. She had sunk a ton of money into the now-defunct social service called Quibi. She will need to sell the house to pay her bills. No more week-long vacations staying at Erin’s house!

 

Howie seems a little down. Noah has not seen him since he moved to the Bay Area. Noah knows that the only thing that will lift Howie’s spirits will be a little ‘hook-up’ time. Howie says no, he is not interested in a short-term fling. He is more geared towards a long-term relationship. Like, what century are you from Howie? Noah decides that the right thing to do is this: Forego any sexual activity himself – until he can find a good match up for his pal Howie. Little does he know what a difficult assignment this will be?

 

Noah and Howie check out one of the local bars. They happen to run into a group of people, and these folks do stay in one of the mansions out by the shoreline. There are the lower-middle class guys along with some money-stuffed rich folk. Charlie (played by James Scully) takes a liking to Howie, and he invites the grubby cheapskates who stay at Erin’s place up to the luxury party penthouse. Who can resist?

 

Maybe The person who can resist is Charlie’s close friend Will (played by Conrad Ricamora). Will is very distant and he seems put off to Noah. Noah wants Howie to have a good time, and Charlie might be a good match for him. Will has the attitude that after Noah and his friends leave — somebody better take out the rest of the trash…

 

Max spends much of his time reading, and most of the time Howie would do that to. Noah likes a good book, too. But here on Fire Island, there are more carnal pleasures that are in sight. Luke and Keegan and flaming weirdoes, and people love them for that. During that week on the island, Howie starts to spend more time with Charlie. But Noah is not convinced that anything is going to happen to get them ‘together’.

 

Will is doing his best to act like a stick-in-the-mud. He tells Noah that Charlie has been burned really badly in a prior relationship. He does not want to see Charlie make the same mistake twice. Noah tells him that he has got it all wrong. Noah starts to see that Will doing basically the same thing for Charlie that he is doing for Howie. The goals are the same — making sure that the best friend that they have in world does not get caught up in some awful, terrible relationship.

 

Will and Noah are not so different, other than the amount of disposable income and percentage of body fat.  But there are other people who are Charlie’s ‘friends’ who would like to put a ‘reject’ sticker on Howie. Other schemes are afoot to play fast-and-loose with people’s emotions, so they can cause some big commotions. One of these is Charlie’s ex-boyfriend. However, he is about as trustworthy as a rattlesnake.

 

So the fun-loving little group that stays with Erin (on the cheap) is expelled from the high-class group that stays at the mansions next to the shoreline. Howie is depressed, and Charlie is none too happy about it either. Noah thinks that Will maybe sold them out, but Will now sees that Howie is a much better fellow for Charlie. So will the right couples get together on this Island of Inflamed Passion?  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

 

“Fire Island” is a non-traditional look at an old traditional story – finding a true love and partner. But unlike any Jane Austen version, this one is filled with a very straight-forward embrace of Gay values. It even tends to dip into the wider mainstream pool of homosexual stereotypes. It most will poke fun at them, but sometime even holds on even closer. But if it did not have a very cutting sense of humor, this might have been chore to sit through the whole thing.

 

The little call-back in the movie about Erin losing her (ill-gained) fortune by investing in Quibi is quite on the mark. It seems that Joel Kim Booster was behind a new series on the service, and also involved was Bowen Yang. They would play gay Asian comedians as characters, and the series would reflect on their life experiences. The Quibi thing went away, gone forever, but the little video series that they created did not die. It eventually turned into this movie.

 

“Fire Island” is laser-focused on the Gay Male Experiences of life. But it is portrayed with such a good-natured humor and a friendly attitude that open-minded audiences of all persuasions might enjoy the show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

 

Streaming on Hulu starting June 3, 2022

 

Fire Island

Directed by: Andrew Ahn
Screenplay by: Joel Kim Booster
Based on: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
Starring: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, Margaret Cho
Cinematography: Felipe Vara de Rey
Edited by: Brian A. Kates
Distributed by: Searchlight Pictures
Release date: June 3, 2022
Length: 105 minutes
MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some nudity
Genre: LGBTQ Comedy

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tmc.io contributor: JMcNaughton

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