Fire Island

Fire Island

It was many moons ago that I read pride and Prejudiceso my recollection is very sketchy, but it doesn’t matter, Fire Island is here to remind me of it as a very modern queer rom-com.

And what a clever new interpretation this is.

Instead of young British women in parasols and men in high collars, this class gap extends to race, body image, and more. Discrimination, after all, shouldn’t happen within minority groups, right? Yeah, for sure….

Korean-American actor Joel Kim Booster (Big mouth, screeching, Sunnyside), is both writer and star of this film, playing Noah, a passionate young nurse on vacation with his best friends in the LGBTQI+ destination, Fire Island.

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

His friends include Howie (Bowen Yang) whose prom card remains single so much, that Noah agrees not to date any men until his friend has.

“I won’t even look at another guy until you get laid,” Noah promises. Great call.

It becomes his mission to be the perfect winger, even as Howie harbors deeper ambitions like romance, endless abs, and one-night stands. Really.

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

At a beach party Howie catches the eye of handsome preppy Charlie (James Scully), but when the group is invited to a private party at a luxury mansion, the boys are treated coldly by an abundance of muscular white men that look like they’ve walked away from an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

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

Filipino-American attorney Will (Conrad Ricamora) also feels Noah is below his rank, and the two soon become filled with unresolved sexual tension.

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

The beautiful Dex (Zane Phillips) also enters the plot, who befriends Noah but has an affair with Will…. are you keeping up?

There’s partying, dating, hangovers, and jokes, like “Somehow I’m crazy and horny!”

Joel Kim Booster’s screenplay translates from Jane Austen with astonishing ease, while managing to highlight how the privileged and the pretty consistently manage to demean those who are not, despite the apparent community flag flying around tolerance and inclusion.

Booster, Yang and Ricamora are especially strong in their lead roles, with Margaret Cho always entertaining if underutilized as the mother hen of the group.

Booster even deftly weaves together a justifiable reason for writing old-fashioned letters, pleasantly nodding to Austen’s world.

On top of that, he’s created a troupe of endearing characters whose holiday romance is a fun stay at camp with an extra message.

Fire Island airs Friday on Star/Disney+