SYNOPSIS: Set in the iconic Fire Island Pines, FIRE ISLAND is an unapologetic, modern day rom-com inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The story centers around two best friends who set out to have a legendary week-long summer vacation with the help of cheap rosé and a cadre of eclectic friends.
What’s a Jane Austen’s novel got to do with a rowdy gay comedy about love and friendship? Apparently regardless of your sexual orientation, all humans simply need to overcome their own biases in order to end up together.
In a clever twist by star and writer Joel Kim Booster, the latter stars as Noah who joins his fellow “sisters” for an annual week-long vacation on Fire Island aka as Noah puts it, the “Gay Disney World”. The all-male squad includes Howie (Bowen Yang) who is still searching for his true love, the comedic sidekicks, Luke (Matt Rogers), Keegan (Tomas Matos) and the obligatory African-American Max (Torian Miller). And their host happened to be their longtime lesbian friend, Erin (Margaret Cho). A good mix of colour and ethic group we must say.
Of course since this is a rom-com about gay men, you sure won’t find an high-profile actress playing Elizabeth Bennet. To no one surprise, Kim Booster IS “Elizabeth Bennet”. Though Noah is portrayed as one that prefers casual sex and hook-ups rather than a steady relationship, his character kind of changes his tune when he met “Mr Darcy”, the no-nonsense sophisticated lawyer from L.A., Will (Conrad Ricamora). At the same time, Noah is busy hooking Howie up with a cute doctor, Charlie (James Scully) as he sees him as a potential love interest for his best friend to end his loneliness and non-existent sex life.
Among many other things, the majority of Fire Island is about the friendship between Noah and Howie and the other half about Noah and his conflicting love views. Still, Kim Booster’s writings are sharp and humorous which helps to transform the predictable rom-com format into something exuberant and fresh. Also, the chemistry between the “sisters” are sizzling and the rapid-fire dialogue is simply hilarious.
Knowing Kim Booster from his stand-up comedian acts and his trademark delivery of R-rated, gay-related jokes, his feature length movie comes as a huge surprise because the man is so talented in screenwriting as well. His partner-in-crime, Bowen Yang sheds his usual SNL boisterous persona to play a convincing lonely gay man.
Fire Island is the first of two major mainstream gay comedies to be release this year. There’s nothing that offensive right here mostly just naked men in Speedos instead of women in bikinis. It’s after all, comedy, drama and the sun. Watch this with an open mind and see how the under-represented gay community works their way to a queer vacation fills with laughs, tears and love.
Review by Linus Tee