Over the years there have been so many adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that it’s hard to imagine there could be any new twists on the material left to take. We’ve even already seen it done with the addition of zombie hordes! And yet actor and comedy writer Joel Kim Booster has found another fresh twist on the story by recasting everyone as gay friends spending a week during the peak party season on New York’s Fire Island. It is a testament to both his creativity and the enduring appeal of Ms. Austen’s story that it winds up working so well.
Noah (Booster) meets up with his friends Howie (Bowen Yang), Luke (Matt Rogers), Keegan (Tomás Matos), and Max (Torian Miller) to catch the ferry for their annual Summer trip to Fire Island Pines, an expensive beach town that along with neighboring Cherry Grove has long been a summer destination for members of the LGBTQ+ community. None of the group quite fit in with the wealthy, looks-and-status-obsessed men that make up the majority of the crowd, but their friend Erin (Margaret Cho) has a house there they can stay in and they always manage to make their own fun.
Noah wants the more reserved Howie to let loose a little and enjoy himself, and so when they spy the attractive Charlie (James Scully) making eyes at them from across an outdoor bar, he strongly pushes Howie to introduce himself (quite literally). The whole time however, Noah notices Charlie’s friend Will (Conrad Ricamora) watching everything disapprovingly and between that and an earlier awkward encounter at the bar, finds himself feeling antagonistic towards him. At a party that night, he overhears Will badmouthing him and his friends to Charlie and feels even more strongly against him, but still wants to make sure that Howie is happy and so continues to encourage him to spend time with Charlie.
If you’re at all familiar with Ms. Austen’s source material or any of the other movies and miniseries based upon it, you can probably guess who represents who here and where this all is going. The modern, hedonistic, gay lifestyle on display actually makes for a clever and surprisingly faithful take on the book. By showing just how closed-minded and elitist (and racist) some of the town’s partygoers can be it only further elucidates the timelessness of its core themes. The raunchy humor may be new, but the lessons are the same, as is the pair of irresistible romances within. With a great cast, fun music, and beautiful scenery, it’s a smart piece of Summer escapism. ★★★★
Rated R for Strong Sexual Content, Language Throughout, Drug Use, and Some Nudity.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor