Brought to life by a tremendously talented cast, Fire Island is a the breezily entertaining that LGBTQ people need.
Watching the trailer, I was skeptical. But I have to say that Fire Island really surprised me. The movie uses cliché and wackiness cleverly, as a cover for bittersweet realism. Yes, gay friendships are complicated, and gay relationships are complicated. Sometimes, your chosen family is the only thing you can really count on.
Frankly, the movie doesn’t come at us to preach, it comes to charm, to tickle, to toss down ten margaritas, and a hug. Director Andrew Ahn proficiently handles the numerous plot lines, character conflicts, and the tonal shifts between raunch and sweetness. In the beginning, it’s difficult to imagine some of these characters fully growing up, but that seems to be the direction in which they’re heading. And that journey is a genuine highlight of the film.
The result? Joel Kim Booster is a revelation for me. This movie makes a clear case for him to be a leading man. But more importantly, it plants a territorial flag in a genre that has long relegated gay people to quirky sidekick and/or moral-support roles. Booster plays the gay best friend trying desperately to get his friend, Howie (Bowen Yang), laid, while making a lot of assumptions and mistakes.
What’s really special here is the writing itself. The movie takes ownership of gay terms and slangs, and doesn’t shy away from naming things as we do in real life. Not the Hollywood sanitized version.
To be honest, as someone who grew up watching Disney Channel, I never thought I’d live to see the day when a Disney branded platform publishes LGBTQ content. In addition, I’ve never been to Fire Island. However, this movie is making me desperate to hop the next flight, then ferry.
Should you watch it?
This movie is a joy, and more romantic than most hetero rom-coms, with all the trappings and exultations of the love connection. Something about it feels a bit revolutionary.