We must be in an alternate universe, as my pick this week is a Jane Austen retelling that I’ve been…looking forward to? Though a lesson for the Blog Collab is that queering a story increases the odds of our approval quite significantly. Either that or adding sharks. While sadly the all-shark adaptation of Pride & Prejudice doesn’t exist (yet), we’ll accept this week’s modern gay version on the blog.
While enjoying a vacation on Fire Island, Noah is determined to find an appropriately hot hookup for his best friend, while avoiding the most disagreeable man he’s ever met.
Good-looking and carefree Noah is a single man most definitely not in search of a wife…though he’s not looking for a boyfriend either. Noah relishes commitment-free hookups, prioritizing above all else his relationship with his found family.
In the P&P tradition, we have along with Noah’s Lizzie, the wildly inappropriate party duo (Luke and Keegan), the weird one (Max), the bff (Howie), and the worrying mama (Mrs. Bennet). The crew is all heading to Fire Island for a week of gay merriment at mama Erin’s vacation home, acquired by luck rather than wealth.
Unfortunately for the family, Erin reveals that, due to poor investment, she’ll have to sell the house. This will be the last summer for the group to enjoy together on Fire Island, casting a certain gloom over the highly anticipated trip. Howie laments that he’s never had a real boyfriend or been able to find a hookup on the annual trip. Noah, feeling it’s his duty to help Howie make good memories on this last stay together, vows to hold off on his own pursuits until he finds Howie a gorgeous guy.
When Noah’s phone dies a tragic death after falling into a pool, he must face the added challenge of matchmaking for Howie IRL. As luck would have it, Howie notices an attractive stranger checking him out at the first party they attend. The new guy Charlie is a kind-hearted doctor who seems completely perfect…except for those in his friend group. Most irritating among these is the surly Will, our Mr. Darcy (of course).
As Howie and the group are invited to posh parties at Charlie’s house, they realize how out of their element they are as penniless gay men of color lacking six-pack abs. The highly protective Will is concerned for his friend Charlie, who can be too willing to trust. Naturally, Will says something rather insulting about Noah, who overhears and is greatly incensed.
After Howie doesn’t return home, Noah excitedly believes his plan has worked…only to discover his bff was in fact a victim of a hangover. While Howie insists that Charlie staying with him all night as he was violently ill is a sign of progress, Noah remains suspicious that Charlie isn’t remotely interested in his pal.
Thinking quickly to help Howie get closer to the object of his affections, Noah invites Charlie over for dinner at their house, inadvertently inviting all of his friends too. While picking up outrageously overpriced groceries, Noah meets the extremely good-looking Dex. When it seems Will despises Dex and warns Noah away from him, this only further strengthens his resolve to enjoy this new man’s company.
So why does Noah continue to spend the bulk of his vacation time quarreling with Will? Despite his abruptness and failure to understand pop culture references, could there be a depth to Will that Noah has been too…prejudiced to appreciate?
4/5 Pink Panther Heads
Though I’m not a huge Pride & Prejudice fan, I did get a lot of enjoyment from this retelling. It works as a rom-com and as both a critique and celebration of the gay community. While the script contains 1000% more sex jokes than Austen, the wit and social commentary are completely spot-on for a film inspired by her most famous novel. The ways socioeconomic status, white supremacy, and fitness/diet culture make their way into all elements of life are addressed compellingly in the gay community here.
In addition to the writing, the performances are done well, with actors inclusive of different body types, race & ethnicity, and gender expression. The dynamic between Noah/Howie and Noah/Will are especially believable, and I appreciate that the family relationships are just as important as the romantic stories. I really enjoyed Will’s version of Mr. Darcy–high praise indeed, as I’m usually annoyed by his character (and not in the sexually tense way Lizzie is). It helps that a lot of the film’s approach emphasizes how painfully and comedically awkward the character is, from repeatedly throwing away ice cream cones to preserve his cool to unwillingly entering a dance-off.
Other updates to the story are done creatively; I was wondering what the Dex/Mr. Wickham twist would be, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. This is a rare retelling that brings a lot of originality and fun to a familiar story.