Dust off those sequined hotpants and get ready to fly those rainbow flags high, because we are at the beginning of June and that means it’s Pride month. And to celebrate the glorious occasion, a new LGBTQ+ film is available to stream.
The movie is Fire Island – a romantic comedy from director Andrew Ahn. From today, Fire Island is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK (as well as most international territories), or if you live in the US you can catch it on Hulu.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, Fire Island follows the story of six friends who spend a week soaking up the sun and having fun at a gay holiday hot spot. The film stars Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, and Conrad Ricamora.
In the movie, five gay guys in their 30s – including Noah and Howie – head to Fire Island to vacation with their lesbian friend Erin. This trip has become somewhat of an annual tradition for the guys, and the group look forward to the holiday all year long.
However, this year marks a significant change. Following some poor investments, along with some bad money management, Erin is having to sell her home, meaning this will be the final year the group can take advantage of free (and therefore affordable) holiday accommodation.
Keen to throw themselves into this final fling, the group decide to party hard and enjoy the time they have. Noah is also keen for his best friend Howie to hook up with someone while they are away, so that he can learn to live in the moment.
Over the course of the week, the group expand their social circle to develop connections with other holiday makers. This leads to much soul searching for both Noah and Howie, as they learn new things about themselves and the relationships they forge, while preparing to enter a new stage of their lives.
Unflinching, well-written, and 100% gay, Fire Island is a delightful rom-com about friendship and love from a queer perspective. The movie shines a light on the highs and lows of sex and romance, touching upon classism, prejudice, and dodgy hook-ups along the way.
With this being an LGBTQ+ movie, the film leans into various aspects of the queer community, from Britney karaoke and underwear parties, to Marisa Tomei appreciation and drag queens. The film also finds time for a dash of Donna Summer, a discussion about Only Fans, and various scenes of scantily-clad men with biceps on their biceps.
OK, so not all of the above is a reflection of day-to-day life in queerdom, so please don’t think it is, but everything included in the film is lifted from certain parts of the community. The writer of this movie, actor and comedian Joel Kim Booster, brings his own experiences to the story, to present a reflection of what it *CAN* be like for gay guys in their 30s who are on the scene looking for love.
And because Fire Island is written by someone who understands the queer experience, the film feels authentic. As a gay man who was single at the beginning of his 30s and who spent a great deal of time partying with friends and going ‘out-out’, I can recognise and connect with the material that is being presented.
So, on an LGBTQ+ level Fire Island works very well, and in terms of its story about reaching a point in life when things begin to change, it certainly hits the spot here. I also believe this movie has some interesting things to say about snobbery, elitism, racism, and various other issues that are part of this and other communities.
In fact, some of the film’s best pieces of dialogue are those which play out as social commentary and highlight classism. There is also a running theme about the cost of living, which feels very topical too.
Where I believe the movie falls down slightly is in its humour. While Fire Island has plenty of gags dotted through the film, I would have liked a few more laughs (and more scenes with Margaret Cho).
I could feel a lighter, more comedic vibe bubbling under the surface, so I feel it is a shame it doesn’t take a bit more advantage of this. However, this is possibly just a personal preference, and I don’t want this to overshadow what I see as a good movie.
Fire Island gets most things right, and thanks to a fine cast and some strong writing, the film proves to be an enjoyable watch. It manages to squeeze life out of a well-trodden Jane Austen story, while offering up a new spin on the material at the same time.
As mentioned above, Fire Island is unflinching, so despite it landing on Disney+ there is some strong language, drug taking, and scenes of a sexual nature. It seems odd that I should have to mention this, but I feel that Disney+ will forever be (wrongly) viewed as a platform just for families and kids, so I’ll make it clear that this film is aimed squarely at adults.
But if you are an adult, and you’re interested in watching a new movie for Pride season, then this could be a film for you. Fire Island is fun, frothy, and at times, fabulous.