May 4, 2013

Wet Hot American Summer

David Wain, 2001

It's the last day of camp and the hormones are running high. The camp counselors are in a heated offensive to hook up with a member of the opposite sex before everyone has to pack up and go home. While not everyone may have the same luck in the romance department, they are all pursuing closure in one form or another.
In this satirical take on 1980's summer camp films (written by original staff members of the cult-classic MTV series The State), WHO KNEW that all you really need is some isolation in a camp cabin and a couple sticks of gum? You are immediately served with some familiar faces (Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Michael Ian Black, David Hyde Pierce, Amy Poehler), and you will continue to see more throughout the film. There is a youthful innocence to the camp staff, and everyone is likable in some way. The stand-out performance is by Christopher Meloni, who plays Gene, someone you rarely see playing a comedic role. Seeing Molly Shannon made me miss Molly Shannon! Be prepared to witness so much tongue-kissing that it leaves you wondering how fast the mononucleosis spread throughout the set. After watching I wondered what I would think of this film had I seen it ten years ago. Maybe I've become jaded... or GROWN-UP - but I feel I would have enjoyed this film much more when I was younger. That was a constant thought throughout: "Okay, that's funny even if I'm not laughing". I enjoyed The State back in the day, so that was a selling point for me here. It's not a perfect film, but its not meant to be. Wain succeeds in exaggerating some the common themes of the 80's summer camp genre (teen love, social stigmas, nerd outcasts, montages). What's admirable about this film is it doesn't take itself seriously. It has its flaws and it knows it does. So what if for every funny scene there is another to match it that trips over itself? While I wasn't amazed by it, nor laughing every second, I have to admit that I was entertained. It's an important film that has its place.

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