Fire Island Synopsis: A group of queer best friends gather in the Fire Island Pines for their annual week of love and laughter, but when a sudden change of events jeopardizes their summer in gay paradise, their bonds as a chosen family are pushed to the limit.
While Hollywood is still playing catch up in terms of diversity, Fire Island represents a much-needed breath of fresh air. Molded from the classical conceits of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Fire Island finds writer and star Joel Kim Booster conjuring a laugh-a-minute comedy from his authentic LGBTQ+ viewpoint.
Booster and Driveways director Andrew Ahn possesses skilled hands in reinventing the studio comedy formula in an artistic light. The duo intelligently delves into nuances of LGBTQ+ culture that aren’t articulated in cinematic outings, often analyzing how race, physique, and other facets create factions in the community.
Where most comedies are grounded in mawkish sentimentality, Fire Island handles its relationship and personal turmoils with a thoughtful touch. The film’s perspective always feels well-articulated and sincere in its heartfelt design. A charismatic cast, including Booster, Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamore, and James Scully, also helps extenuate the script’s dual strengths through their lived-in camaraderie.
At the same time, Fire Island represents a joyous celebration of LGBTQ+ culture. Booster showcases deft touch in his comedic barbs, pulling clever cultural references and humorous pratfalls while rarely missing a beat. Ahn’s abilities help tremendously in evolving the studio comedy formula. His effervescent imagery and poised composition elicit the bright joys of a warm summer getaway with friends without ever overplaying his hand.
Fire Island elicits laughs from start to finish. My most extensive critique goes to Fox Searchlight for not allowing the film to see the light of day on the big screen. During a summer movie season crowded with blockbusters, this is the type of inspired counter-programming the theatrical market desperately needs.