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Fire Island

Fire Island, 2022

In this "Pride and Prejudice, but gay!" story, Noah (Joel Kim Booster), best friend Howie (Bowen Yang), and a group of friends head to Fire Island for an annual summer vacation at their friend Erin's (Margaret Cho) beach house. Things get shaken up within the friend group when Howie falls for handsome doctor Charlie (James Scully) and Noah clashes with Darcy-surrogate Will (Conrad Ricamora).

There are plenty of terrible book adaptations out there, often involving very lazy lateral moves between the source material and the updated setting. I had the bar set pretty low for this one, but ended up really enjoying it.

First and foremost, it took me a minute to recognize Joel Kim Booster, but I've watched a lot of his stand-up and find him very funny. Bowen Yang is one of my favorite parts of current-era Saturday Night Live, and both men have excellent comic timing and delivery. Even less powerful punchlines get a lot of lift from the actors. The supporting cast isn't quite as strong, but they still manage to make enough of an impression. Ricamora is particularly good and sneakily charming as the uptight Will, and it's a really fun interpretation of the Darcy archetype.

Another really strong updating of the original novel's dynamics is the rift between Noah and Howie's group and Charlie and Will's group, which comes down to racial and socio-economic biases within the gay community. Early in the film Howie quotes the infamous "No fats, no fems, no asians", and we see how those prejudices play out through the film. While Charlie himself never explicitly expresses those views, he is tolerant of some pretty terrible things that his friend group says about Howie and Noah. There's also a nod to the way that some people exploit the party environment to skirt issues of consent. Subplots like Lydia's seduction or Bingley's hesitation about Jane are nicely reframed in the context of Fire Island.

In terms of the romances, the Noah/Will relationship develops in a very sweet way, with both men getting to see in the other someone who is loyal and principled. The Howie/Charlie pairing doesn't make quite the same impact, in part because we just don't get as many scenes between the two of them. That said, the Howie/Charlie stuff is mostly a way to explore the friendship between Howie and Noah, and the difference in how each man relates to the sex and romance culture around them.

While not without its flaws, the comedic talent of the two leads and a solid screenplay makes this a really pleasant surprise.