Fire Island is a light, joyful summer movie, released on Hulu in early June, about a group of friends enjoying parties, dancing, hook-ups, and flirting during one wild week on Fire Island.
It’s also a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Seriously. And it absolutely works!
Fire Island is a sweet, funny rom-com about a group of five friends, a found family of gay men who lovingly refer to one another as “sisters”, looking for… well, not necessarily love, but certainly flings during their week of partying and escape from their real lives. Here on Fire Island, they can be loud, proud, outrageous, and despite the social and racial divides that insert some uglier moments (racist snobs are still racist snobs, even on Fire Island), it’s a haven as well as a vacation.
Noah (played by screenwriter Joel Kim Booster), the main character, and his best friend Howie (played by SNL’s amazing Bowen Yang) are the stand-ins for Lizzie and Jane Bennet. Howie is too sweet for this setting — he’s never been in a relationship, and he’s looking for love. When he encounters the puppy-dog cute Charlie, the awkward cuteness of their attraction is just adorable. But Charlie is accompanied by his friend Will, a dour, unpleasant sort of guy who thinks our group of five is uncouth and not their kind of people — and once Noah overhears Will’s nasty comments, Noah’s opinion of Will is sealed.
The two flightiest of the group are perfect in the Lydia and Kitty roles, and the Mary Bennet character is hilarious. Comedian Margaret Cho plays the wealthy friend whose house they crash at each summer — she’s not a ridiculous character like Mrs. Bennet, but she is very funny in her attempts to constantly mother her group of boys.
I loved all the Pride and Prejudice moments — the story follows the bones of P&P quite well, but not so much that it feels forced or shoehorned in. Certain beats get dropped altogether (Charlotte Lucas, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine), and that’s fine. There’s enough there to add a twinkle to the storyline, and for an Austen fan, it’s really fun.
That said, I think the story would work perfectly well as a rom-com in its own right for those who aren’t there for the Austen of it all. It’s funny, but also has great scenes of friendship and emotional connection and sadness… although the mood never stays down or serious for long.
Fire Island is rated R and there’s plenty of raunchy sex talk, implied sex acts, and super skimpy clothing. As with all movies, consider your comfort level with R-rated movies. (I’d take this type of R over a violent movie any day…)
I’m so glad I finally watched Fire Island! It’s a fun summer movie that lifted my spirits on a chilly autumn day… and delighted my inner Austen nerd immensely.