Graphic language, sex, drugs in enjoyable romcom.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the Jane Austen-inspired Fire Island portrays a sector of the gay community on vacation, and content includes partying, language, sex, and talk about sexual acts. The characters are a diverse group of gay men who've formed a makeshift family outside the "heteronormative" restrictions of society and the mistreatment they've endured, including in some cases racism. They've gathered for a week of partying that includes significant drinking, vomiting, hangovers, and drug use. There are lots of men in skimpy bathing suits and underwear, including bottomless. Characters kiss, one man gives another oral sex, a man walks into rooms where other men are seen having intercourse, a man secretly videotapes another having sex, and sexual acts are talked about explicitly with language about "f--king," "anal," "bottoming," "getting laid," fetishes, positions, sex work, STIs, sluts, "eating ass," being horny, revenge porn, "p---y," vaginas, crabs, and orgies. Other language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "damn," "bitch," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "f--got," "whore," "moron," "weirdo," "stupid," "idiot," "pissed," and "loser."
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What's the Story?
Best friends Noah (Joel Kim Booster) and Howie (Bowen Yang), two gay Asian men, are off for their annual pilgrimage to FIRE ISLAND. The pair travel to the resort island with their eclectic group of misfit friends, including Keegan (Tomas Matos), Luke (Matt Rogers), and Max (Torian Miller). They stay at the house of their substitute mom, Erin (Margaret Cho), who announces she has to sell the place and this will be their last summer there. Noah is determined to help Howie meet a man, which he does in preppy pediatrician Charlie (James Scully). But Noah doesn't expect that he might also meet someone special in Charlie's awkward friend Will (Conrad Ricamora).
Is It Any Good?
Enveloped within the racy language and explicit sexual content of this film are some hearteningly authentic messages about friends, family, and romantic love. That duality makes Fire Island a journey of discovery for viewers as much as for the characters, who find love in unexpected places, Pride and Prejudice-style. We're guided along by the straight-talking and drily funny narration of Noah (played by Joel Kim Booster, who also wrote the script). It proves helpful to have him as a tour guide for the island's traditional festivities, and Booster also takes on a tongue-in-cheek anthropologist's tone in explaining some aspects of the gay community.
Of course, this group can't represent an entire community. The eclectic ensemble represents a makeshift family of gay friends eschewed by family and -- in the case of the Asian men especially -- mistreated by others. There will be people -- gay and not -- turned off by the film's portrayal of promiscuity and partying. But that's where the genuine love stories of Howie and Charlie and Noah and Will come in to balance things out. A climactic "pre-9/11 romcom"-style ending for one pair and a romantic dance on the pier for another offer satisfying and surprisingly traditional closure for the on-screen couples.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of the gay community gathered on Fire Island. What are some "truths" shared by the narrator about this community?
What is the history of Fire Island for the LGBTQ+ community, and where could you go for more information?
What examples of racist and classist treatment do the characters endure? Did this surprise you? Why, or why not?
Noah concludes that the annual pilgrimage is less about the place and more "about the people." How does this group of friends represent a makeshift family, and why is this shown as especially important for them?
The film is said to be "inspired" by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Where do you see the parallels?
- On DVD or streaming: June 3, 2022
- Cast: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho
- Director: Andrew Ahn
- Studio: Hulu
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Holidays
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some nudity
- Last updated: July 7, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
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A respectful -- though long -- dramatization.
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For kids who love LGBTQ+ stories
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