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‘Fire Island’ Review: Oh, the Summer Nights

‘Fire Island’ Review: Oh, the Summer Nights

The fairly banal title, which refers to the famously hedonistic New York gay haven, reflects the degree of originality deployed by Andrew Ahn’s “Fire Island.” This, after all, is a rom-com that deploys not one but three genre staples — a party game (here a session of Heads Up!), a karaoke outing (Britney, naturally) and a dance scene — and where every plot development feels preordained.

Yet it’s also impossible to resist a movie that uses “Legally Blonde” as a verb and in which two men adorably bond over Alice Munro short stories. Noah (Joel Kim Booster, who also wrote the screenplay and has a Netflix special due June 21) and his similarly underfunded buddies have descended on the Pines for a last week of summer fun before their host (Margaret Cho) sells her house. Noah is busy playing wingman for his friend Howie (“SNL” cast member Bowen Yang), a hopeless romantic who fears he will never find a boyfriend, while himself steering clear of emotional attachments — until he develops a suspiciously intense antipathy for the uptight, taciturn lawyer Will (the fetching Conrad Ricamora, from “How to Get Away With Murder”).

The movie lightly recasts Jane Austen tropes, with Noah as the reluctant anchor of friends fumbling to form attachments beyond their own cozy circle, while the social commentary is updated to barbs at Fire Island’s racial, financial and sexual stratification. The pace is slacker than it should be, but still, “Fire Island” fits neatly alongside Kristen Stewart’s lesbian Christmas movie “Happiest Season” on Hulu’s rom-com shelf.

See Also

Fire Island
Rated R for sexual shenanigans. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Watch on Hulu.

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