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Review: Fire Island

Filmmakers have proven the elasticity of Jane Austen's novels, think Clueless for one example. Comedian Joel Kim Booster finds a clever way to change up the heteronormative relationship hookups of Pride and Prejudice with Fire Island. Here is a raunchy queer rom-com that breathes fresh life into this old tale.

Booster updates Austen's classic with a gay Asian twist, setting the search for Mr. Right on an LGBTQ vacation. The film is unapologetically queer and all the better for it. At the center of Fire Island is the friendship between Noah (Booster and his best friend Howie (Bowen Yang). Along with two of their friends and their house mother, played by Margaret Cho, they all plan on having a banger of a final vacation before the house they stay at is sold. Noah is committed to getting Howie laid and out of his shell.

Noah is perpetually single, and all the more happy for it. He is set on scoring and then getting rid of them quickly. Howie is the opposite, not wanted to participate in the gay hookup culture and instead wants an old-fashioned Hollywood romance. Noah believes all Howie needs is a fling and so promises to abstain until Howie finds one. He assumes, given the Fire Island reputation, that this will happen quickly. Howie meets a sweet-natured doctor named Charlie (James Scully) at a bar on their first night. Noah is excited but wants things to move quickly. He has his eye on Dex (Zane Phillips) who hit him up at a convenience store. Things get complicated when Noah meets Charlie's friend Will (Conrad Ricamora), who is the Mr. Darcy character.

One of the things that keeps Fire Island working is the chemistry among its leads. Yang is endearing as Howie, making what could be a routine prude into someone more layered. It is refreshing to see him outside of his SNL sketches. Booster gets to show off his comedic chops often, hitting funny lines with energy and perfect timing. While the film is familiar given its source, the details related to queer culture also provide unique twists on rom-com cliches.

Fire Island champions its inclusiveness, showing that there is room for all kinds of people when it comes to love. It is a strength that is carried home by the rich performances from the cast. They make you care about the romances at the film's center, making it easy to enjoy this update of an old tale.



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