Fire Island

Starring: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, James Scully, Conrad Ricamora, Matt Roger’s, Tomas Matos, and Zane Phillips.

Directed By: Andrew Ahn

Where I Watched It: Hulu

English Audio Description Available?: Yes, finally

Description Provided By: Deluxe

Narrated By: Julian Smith

The Plot: A very Jane Austen inspired story sends a group of friends to a gay weekend on Fire Island where they look to have fun, dance, and get laid. Noah (Booster) is particularly interested in getting his best friend Howie (Yang) laid, so he commits himself to celibacy until he finds Howie the perfect match. Then their group runs across another group, and intermingling and romance begins.

What Works: It’s nice to see a film like this get made. it’s potentially the gayest thing anyone will watch this year, and I mean that in the truest sense of that word. I don’t think there is a straight character in the entire film. It’s 100% unapologetically gay. no need for a straight best friend, or anything. No conversations with parents who either disapprove, or approve too much. It’s just a lot of gay guys, and one really cool lesbian, hanging out and partying. And for people who don’t always get their own stories, this is what representation can look like. It also features three Asian lead characters, all well known comics, which in itself would be groundbreaking. But the trio of Booster, Yang, and Cho carry this film. Especially Cho, who brings all of her life experience into a role that is occasionally wacky, but somehow the most grounded character with enough presence of mind to be able to impart knowledge on the younger gays staying with her.

It’s a very cute romcom that sets up love triangles for the main characters, and the biggest shame is that it is releasing during a time when films keep getting sent straight to streaming, so unlike a gay film of years past, like perhaps Weekend or All Over The Guy, it doesn’t have an opportunity to open in art house theatres to its core audience. It just has to hope that enough gays have Hulu. And, with the films that Hulu has been dropping this year, I’m fairly certain they believe they have a strong LGBT audience.

What Doesn’t Work: There’s a very clear distinction between lead and supporting. Even though the lead cast should be the initial group of friends, it becomes really clear that some of those characters only exist as glorified background characters. For both groups. Both Noah and Howie’s group of friends, and Will and Charlie’s group have guys that could have fallen off the face of the earth, and you wouldn’t have noticed them missing at the end of the film. Really, my only qualm with this film is the inability to balance characters and storylines. You’re either a lead, or you’re somewhere in the background looking thirsty, waiting for that one line of dialogue the writer gave you, even though you’re part of this dominant group.

A film that could have been written more to feature it’s ensemble, really only serves 5-6 characters, shoving everyone else aside. Granted, the story were’ given works, but it begs the question why anyone needed all those extra friends in the first place?

The Blind Perspective: I guess I don’t really have any main complaints about the audio description. I thought Julian was fine, I just wasn’t 100% sure he fit the film. I don’t know how much thought was put into the process, but with all the narrators out there, if I was trying to select a voice, I’m not sure I would have gone with Julian. This needed someone with a little more fire in their island, and Julian is used to doing the non-intrusive narration, which sometimes feels like it’s dragging down a comedy. Deadpan description in the wrong film almost feels like it’s working against the intention of the film itself. I’ve heard some really dynamic narrators, like whoever does the audio description for ABC’s The Rookie. He gets really into things, like he’s personally invested. Something like that could have complimented the humor, instead of just underscoring.

Final Thoughts: I had originally started watching this film when it first dropped on Hulu, thinking it would have audio description, and it was interesting enough even without AD that I found myself watching somewhere between 5-10 minutes before forcing myself to stop and wait for audio description. I came back to it one more time, and there still was no audio description. Then, finally, I got this done. But, honestly, I was so interested and brought into this film through Noah’s own narration of the story and the likability of the characters, that I almost watched this thing without audio description.

I thought this movie was fun, fluffy, and unique enough to stand on its own. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented on screen, especially in this day and age when we have so many different entertainment services vying for eyes. I’m just glad this got made.

Final Grade: A-

Say Something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s