Fire Island review – a funny and enjoyable genre film

By Marc Miller
Published: May 31, 2022 (Last updated: February 1, 2023)
Hulu film Fire Island


Fire Island is a funny and enjoyable romantic comedy with a sense of community.

This review of the Hulu film Fire Island does not contain spoilers. 

There is something so refreshing in how Fire Island doesn’t try to make a big deal about being an LGBTQ+ romantic comedy. Simply, why would it have to? The landscape of rom-com has changed so much in the past almost thirty years from films like Chasing Amy, Go Fish, and In & Out. Those groundbreaking films center around putting the issue as a plot point instead of letting it be. Here, the new Hulu film treats its characters like any comedy in the genre would.

Here, best friends Noah (The Other Two’s Joel Kim Booster) and Howie (Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang), along with their group, head to Fire Island for their annual trip. It’s a celebration of their freedom of sexual orientation. That includes drinking, partying, and hookups. It’s a trip they take every year and look forward to. The guys stay at Erin’s (Margaret Cho) house, a woman twice their age whose fortune was acquired from a lawsuit. (I won’t ruin the joke, but it’s priceless). She is the big sister of the group, guiding these proud gay men through their lives.

Noah is the strong, outspoken type with a passion for helping and defending his friends. He tries to get Howie, shy, quiet, and vulnerable, out of his shell. He encourages him to pursue a fun night with Charlie (You’s James Scully). Unfortunately, he comes to find out he is part of a group of guys Noah detests. The stuck-up, snobby, and rich ones. You know the type. The ones that look down at anyone not plugged into the latest trends and must have a minimum number of followers on their Instagram page. Though, Noah has particular friction with one of them (which will lead to some heat). That man’s name is Will (The Resident’s Conrad Ricamora), a grounded lawyer who Noah has more in common with than he realizes.

Andrew Ahn directed Fire Island (Driveways) and, along with the script from the talented Booster, folds in a lot of heart in a fairly standard romantic comedy story. Here, Booster and Ahn give their film a sense of culture. If you think back to scenes in the movie The Normal Heart, scenes of a sexual nature take place on this narrow strip of the beach that’s part of the outer barrier islands. There is a long history of support for the LGBTQ+ community here. As Larry Kramer said, “We have our sexuality, and we have made a culture out of our sexuality.” That is important to note here, along with LGBTQ+ characters using slurs to describe themselves because they have reclaimed and reappropriated the word as their own.

There is a reason why the background here is essential to understand. Here is a comedy unashamed of the genre’s tropes and cliches and unapologetic about an experience that represents more than just a gay paradise, as the island has been called. This is a romantic comedy about community. Yes, there is no hidden depth, where the film could have used a few struggles to focus on this group’s intersectionality. However, Fire Island has good performances and a script that can be very funny. (The scene with actors Matt Rogers and Tomas Matos playing Heads Up and debating the merits of Marisa Tomie’s performance in My Cousin Vinny had me laughing out loud).

We have a point in Hollywood where more films like this can be produced without questioning if audiences will accept a standard comedy like Fire Island without having to explain why the issue is important. It’s just an acceptable form of storytelling.

And that is a step in the right direction.

What did you think of the Hulu film Fire Island? Comment below.

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