As of right now, it’s hot, it’s wet, and it’s summer, so why not?
In the summer of ’81, a liberal, Jewish camp finally comes onto their last day where everybody’s emotions are running high, low, or every which way but loose. However, not everybody’s aspirations they had for the summer got fulfilled, so for one last night, everybody decides to go crazy and as if they have nothing else in the world to worry about rather than having a good time with beer, sex, drugs, and friends. You know, the little things in life that matter. Screw all that other serious crap!
Summer camp, from what I have seen in other movies, or heard of from other people who have been to one, seems like it’s a pretty awesome place. I know, it’s probably weird for some of you out there to take in the fact that I have never been to a summer camp ever in my life, so therefore, I depend on movies like these to give me a good time as if I was right there. And from what I read, apparently writer/director David Wain has been to many summer camps but for some reason, seems like he never has been to an actual fun one with a film like this that is apparently based of his experiences.
I do have to give credit where credit’s due with this flick and say that for the most part, it can be pretty funny. There’s a lot of crazy gags going on here, zany characters flying in-and-out of the story, and random acts that are sometimes explained, and sometimes aren’t. But you know what? With comedy, you sometimes don’t need to explain what’s going on, just as long as it makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. There were many moments in this flick where I found myself laughing and enjoying myself because I could tell Wain definitely doesn’t take this material too seriously and gives us plenty of random moments that either work, or don’t. As simple as that.
Also, have always been a huge sucker for movies that take place during one full-day where almost anything and everything is possible. Always like to live life like that myself, which is even better when I see it transition-well onto the big-screen.
However, the film isn’t as funny as it should be and I think that’s because too much of this just feels like a really long, over-blown pilot to a new TV show, one that would probably be featured on the old days of MTV before Snooki and all of those other d-bags took over. 12-year old type of humor doesn’t bother me all that much, except for when it’s done right, but this film just seemed like it was trying too hard to go for that type of comedy and then would all of a sudden change itself into being a parody of a movie, that either nobody saw, nobody understood, and/or even cared about in the first place. It’s a weird mixture between potty humor and a parody, and the problem is that they never really come together to make this flick a full-feature and make it feel like it was chopped up into little, itty-bitty pieces that Wain and Co. thought would be funny. Little did they know that they were the only ones who actually got the joke.
Another big problem this film seems to have is that with a premise and idea like this film has, you would expect it to be a total wild ride of everything you would expect from a camp movie, but instead, you just get something that’s actually a little boring at times. The title sequence of this flick had me feeling like I was about to see something total insane, starting off with a bunch of camp counselors, hanging out around a camp-fire, smoking reefer, drinking some brews, making-out, and eventually, getting it on, all played to the tunes of Foreigner mind you. So basically, I was expecting something like that or the rest of the hour 30 minutes but I didn’t get that and even when there did seem to be a lot of energy in this flick, it happens and shows in certain spots. After seeing Wain’s recent flicks, (Role Models and Wanderlust), I can tell this guy has definitely upped his game on providing fun and wild moments in a film and keeping that going throughout, but it’s sort of obvious that this was his first flick as you can never tell if this guy knew what exactly he was doing behind-the-camera, other than just making a film he thought was really cool and funny. With his friends as well, which isn’t so bad, just as long as you and your buddies aren’t the only ones having fun.
Sadly, that’s what happens and it’s one of those cases where the high-faves stay on that side of the screen, and that side alone.
You would also expect a lot more from a star-studded cast like this, but somehow, they all get squandered with the exception of a few. Janeane Garofalo is alright as the head camp counselor, Beth, and she really seems to be in-tune with her comedic timing, even if this material doesn’t seem to suit her so perfectly; David Hyde Pierce essentially plays his usual role from Frasier, and is still entertaining to watch, but that stuck-up, nerdy-type doesn’t work so well here as it does with that quality show; Paul Rudd is funny as a lady-killing camp counselor known as Andy, and plays up that whole dick-head act about him very well but even he’s not as funny as he should be; Michael Showalter is here as the innocent, hopeless romantic, Coop, that seems like he should be a lot funnier and usually is, the problem is that his material just isn’t strong enough to have us care too much about him; and surprisingly, Christopher Meloni ends up being probably the funniest out of this whole gang, playing a traumatized, Vietnam-vet that talks and does more wild shit than anybody does in this whole flick. You know you’re movie is in some trouble when the dude from CSI is the funniest thing in it, then again, though Meloni’s the man and it’s about time that the dude got not just more quality-roles, but ones that showed how well he can make us laugh, because that’s a greatly-unappreciated talent of his.
Oh, and Bradley Cooper is in this movie doing something you will never, ever believe he does. It gets crazy, almost to the point of where you’re wondering whether or not your eyes are deceiving you or not. Because trust me, right here and right now: they aren’t. Bradley Cooper is in this movie, and he’s doing the most wild shit I’ve ever seen him do. Give him the Oscar now!
Consensus: Though it shines in some bright spots, Wet Hot American Summer should be a whole lot funnier, crazier, and smarter with what it jokes around about and even tries to parody. Not a terrible comedy by any means, just not as funny as it seems like it promises.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
When this movie came out, Entertainment Weekly gave it an A. I saw it a little while after and didn’t think it was all that funny, but it has kind of grown on me. It’s one of those movies that would have worked better with a laugh track.
I think I’ll see it again down the road and like it more. But for now, I’m just very whatever with it.
Oh… I love this film. It’s so hilarious. Truly one of the most underrated films of the last decade. I finally saw it a few months ago and just fell in love with it. It kinda makes fun of those summer camp films but also has the time to very raunchy and shocking. “You taste like a burger, I don’t like you anymore”. Paul Rudd ruled in this film.
I can’t say I share the same sentiments as you, but I still enjoyed some of it. Just not all of it.
Nice review. I haven’t seen this for the longest time but a friend of mine loves this movie and watches it every summer.
Good for that person. I can totally see why you would if you loved it like he apparently does. Sadly, I don’t think I’m one of those peeps.
Wet Hot American Summer is quirky and all over the place, without getting excessively crazy, which is why I think it makes such a perfect Saturday afternoon movie for Comedy Central. I could see how You might find it boring at times as a result, but I enjoy its laid-back attitude. I would agree that Garafalo might be the best used and that Christopher Meloni is probably the funniest, although I feel like I should pointbout that Neloni was on Law & Order, not CSI haha. I personally would cut some of the other actors a break considering this movie was so early in their careers. I think it’s kind of strange how Bradley Cooper refuses to talk about this movie in interviews. Wonder why he’s so ashamed of it.
Actually, Bradley Cooper isn’t ashamed of the film at all. In fact, he did talk about on Kelly Ripa some months ago. He is proud as shit for being in that film and has attended cast reunions.
I’m surprised that Bradley still talks about this movie considering what he does in this movie. Good for him though for being such a stand-up dude. Philadelphia represent!
I’ve seen lots of glowing reviews of this movie, but personally it bored me. I’ve been meaning to go back to it since I haven’t seen it in 10 years or so, but I’m in no rush. This review confirmed why I shouldn’t be. Thanks!
You got it! Everybody seems to love it, but I’ve just been very “whatever” about it really.
Love this movie! I stumbled upon it one night, gave it a shot and was not disappointed. It’s just so frickin zany and I love the cast. Give it another shot! 🙂
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