Review: Fire Island

Fire Island screenshot

Year: 2022 | Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I am literally shocked by the unanimously positive reception that Fire Island has received. I don’t check reviews before I watch a film, so it’s absolutely blowing my mind that it currently sits at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and 3.7 on Letterboxd.

Do we all collectively have a lower bar for gay content? But then again, so do I, and Fire Island still failed to clear it. Horrible voiceover, a horrible main character, a horrible love interest, a confusing timeline, never more than just a chuckle at the few jokes that landed. I also wonder who, exactly, this movie was made for. Do these types of super stereotypical “party gays” still exist in 2022? Even at gay bars, raves, and parties, I’ve never in my life met any single fellow gay man who is as incessantly and obnoxiously messy as the characters are in this film, much less an entire fucking movie’s cast worth. I have been immersed in gay culture and surrounded by queer people my entire adult life. I’m 30 years old now, and all of my queer friends have settled into careers and earned degrees and moved in with our partners, y’know…like normal people. Because we are normal people.

I would just settle for one mainstream gay movie that doesn’t caricature gay men and our culture, especially when those films pretend to subvert those stereotypes with ideas like “I can’t be a stereotype because I read” (implying there’s some sort of intelligence factor at play between those who fit the stereotype and those who don’t). I just want a mainstream film made for queer people that accurately portrays the many shades of gray that make up our community. Is that too much to ask?

So yeah, the straights seem to love this movie, which I get. This is the kind of so-called “gay culture” that heteronormative media has been portraying for decades. But the universal praise that it’s received from the queer community is really and truly baffling to me, I’m sorry.

Before I checked the reviews after watching this film, my review was going to say something about how, in our quest for equality, we have to take the good with the bad, and that it stands to reason that as queerness becomes more accepted, we’re going to start seeing the kinds of faux-deep-but-actually-vapid movies like Fire Island that straight people have been making for years, and I stand by that.

But damn, we still deserve better than this, and it worries me when movies like Fire Island get this kind of reception because once we accept this kind of stereotypical tripe as our standard, it’s going to be hard to demand more. I dunno, maybe I’m way off-base here and this is actually a good movie that I just didn’t get…but I really don’t think so.

Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Runtime: 1 hr. 45 min.
Rating: R

Director: Andrew Ahn
Starring: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully

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