2001 / Director. David Wain.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER has been on my radar for over ten years and it's one of those films that I've never managed to get to. I have had an insatiable appetite for summer camp movies ever since I fell in love with MEATBALLS and considering the incredible ensemble cast in this film, it was a frustrating anticipation - spread out over a decade.
Finally my time arrived and I can, without a doubt, add WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER to my list of all time underrated comedies. It is almost cut from the same cloth as MEATBALLS and carries itself with a similar sporadic structure that sees our attention pinballing all over the camp grounds, between all of the characters and their antics. The film has gone on to become a cult piece, thanks mostly to the calibre of talent that has emerged from it. Some of the players were already notable, however the movie also spawned a whole new generation of talent. The cast includes; Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Molly Shannon, Ken Marino, Christopher Meloni, Amy Poehler, Marguerite Moreau and a bunch of others.
The story takes place on the last day of summer camp and follows the characters as they enjoy final activities and take advantage of last-chance romances. All of the typical dynamics are in place and we've got the nerds, the sluts, the jocks, the counsellors etc. The film expects you to have a pre-established knowledge of summer camp comedies, as well as an affection for the early 1980s era. Director David Wain exploits a slew of retrocentric cliches and presents us with a film that is screwball and satirical. His movie is riddled with gags - some more obvious than others and it deserves repeated viewings with so many subtleties alluding the viewer on their first voyage. I know that I certainly missed a heap of comedy, having been distracted by many of the bigger laughs.
If you combine MEATBALLS with the nostalgic nuances of FREAKS AND GEEKS you get WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER. It is a comedy that has forged itself a cult status and has lead to an upcoming TV series, which will see most of the original cast return. There is so much to love about this one and I can't talk it up enough. Great stuff.