What a delightful little gem for Searchlight Pictures to bring us all right at the beginning of Pride Month! It makes me so happy to see a beautifully diverse gay themed friendship comedy come out of mainstream Hollywood. And this film isn’t just diverse; it’s also well written with impressive cinematography. I’m honestly a sucker for both vacation/friendship films and LGBTQ themed films so I’m THE prime target audience here. If you’re like me and you typically enjoy these kind of films then I can almost guarantee you’ll have a good time with Fire Island.
Something I automatically liked about Fire Island was how they didn’t put off the fun at all as the opening scene is very engaging and it really hits the ground running. It’s as if the screenwriter was like: “we don’t have any time to waste ya’ll!” It’s also just a nice introduction to both the lead character and the entire friend group.
And the cast of characters we get to know have a lovely chemistry that crackles throughout. Joel Kim Booster plays the main character we focus on out of the group, Noah. I really like the way Booster played his role; he’s funny, sweet, but also flawed. All of that comes through in a genuine way that works. Bowen Yang plays the super sweet lovely bestie of Noah, Howie. This character is the more sensitive one of the group that yearns for a nice more traditional relationship. Yang’s performance is so earnest and while it’s warm, it’s never dopey or cheesy. I really want to see Yang in more going forward!
Then there’s three other friends of the group who provide enjoyable supporting performances, they just aren’t as prominent as Booster and Yang. Finally, to top off the rainbow flag covered group, there’s the hilarious Margaret Cho herself!
What can I say? Cho is simply wonderful as the sort of mother goose of this rowdy bunch. Her character is an older lesbian friend of theirs who owns a small house on the island where they retreat to once a year. She’s provided with some very funny lines and she makes the absolute most out of every chance. I like that she’s both on their level AND is a mother figure who sometimes offers up some wisdom. It’s a really lovely double role and she plays the hell out of it.
It really seems like this cast had lots of fun doing Fire Island; you can almost feel that positive bubbly energy radiate off the screen. We get to see them do three things during this week long vacation: party, have deep conversations, and some just may find love. I feel that each one of these cogs in the wheel is well constructed which is why this is such a smooth ride. The growth that takes place with several of the guys is really lovely and organic and most of the issues that are confronted are issues people can relate to.
Feeling judged within your own community, feeling habitually unwanted, feeling lonely, etc. These issues are not only relatable but also pretty relevant. Yang’s character Howie has the most significant metamorphosis of sorts. Aside from the friend group themselves, the potential love interests that are presented for a couple of the boys are good fits for who they end up with and what can I say? I love some cute vacation film style romance. And seeing one character in particular receive something that they so deserve and have awaited so long is very heartwarming and gratifying to see.
To be honest, the only thing I would have adjusted is that I would have prolonged the runtime and given the few supporting friends in the group a tad more time. I mean they aren’t deserted but I did wish we could’ve spent some more time with them. Other than that, there really isn’t much else to criticize here! The filmmakers also get extra props for not being afraid to get a little down n dirty and give us some red hot scenes! Wowza!
Fire Island is like a delicious meal at a fine dining restaurant: it deserves to be savored and appreciated. I had pretty high expectations for this and it meet those expectations almost totally. Get your beautifully diverse gaggle of friends together and celebrate PRIDE Month by enjoying this treat.
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