Fire Island

A camp, comic take on Pride & Prejudice translates surprisingly well to an LGBTQI+ escape -where inclusion is not for everybody.

It was many moons ago that I read Pride & Prejudice, so my recall is very sketchy -but no matter, Fire Island is here to remind me as a very modern, queer romantic comedy.

And what a clever new take this is.

Instead of young British ladies in parasols and men in high collars, this divide between class is expanded to race, body image and more. Discrimination, after all, is not supposed to happen within minority groups, right? Yeah right….

Korean-American actor Joel Kim Booster (Big Mouth, Shrill, Sunnyside), is both writer and star of this movie, appearing as Noah, a buff young nurse out for a vacation with his best buddies at LGBTQI+ destination, Fire Island.

“It’s like Gay Disneyworld… fun, fun, fun for the whole family!”

His pals include Howie (Bowen Yang) whose dance card remains so single, that Noah agrees not to hook up with any men until his friend has.

“I’m not even gonna look at another guy, until you get laid,” Noah promises. Big call.

It becomes his mission to be the perfect wing-man, even if Howie harbours deeper ambitions such as romance, over endless abs and one night stands. For real.

Together with diverse friends Luke (Matt Rogers), Keegan (Tomás Matos) and Max (Torian Miller), they stay at the rambling holiday home of lesbian friend, Erin (Margaret Cho).

At a beach party Howie catches the attention of dashing preppy Charlie (James Scully) but when the group is invited back to a private party at a luxury abode, the boys are given the cold shoulder by an abundance of hunky white men who look like they have strayed from an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.

“I think you have the wrong house,” they are told.

Even Filipino-American lawyer Will (Conrad Ricamora) deems Noah as beneath his station, and the two soon bristle with unresolved sexual tension.

“These people are not our people,” Noah tells his friends.

Also entering into the plot is drop-dead gorgeous Dex (Zane Phillips) who befriends Noah but has history with Will…. are you keeping up?

There are parties, trysts, hangovers and quips, such as “Somehow I’m mad and horny!”

Joel Kim Booster’s screenplay translates from Jane Austen with surprising ease, all the while managing to highlight how the privileged and pretty manage to constantly belittle those without -despite the community’s apparent flag-waving around tolerance and inclusion.

Booster, Yang and Ricamora are particularly strong in their principal roles, with Margaret Cho always fun if under-utilised as the group’s mother hen.

Booster even manages to cleverly weave in a justifiable reason for some old-fashioned letter writing, nicely nodding to Austen’s world.

More than this, he has created a troupe of endearing characters whose holiday romance is an entertaining, camp sojourn with a message to boot.

Fire Island screens Friday on Star / Disney+

3 Responses

  1. I saw this last week at the Sydney Film Festival for it’s premiere, and it was just a pure big bundle of joy! Margaret Cho was one of the stars in her supporting role delivering some cracker one-liners. Pour yourself a big cocktail and sit back and enjoy this one 🙂

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