Wet Hot American Summer (2001) written by Michael Showwalter and David Wain is a comedy that will bring you back to summer camp instantly. If you have never been to summer camp, you can watch this film and it will feel like you were sent away every summer while you were a kid for 7 years straight.
Showwalter and Wain somehow managed to gather every actor/comedian before they became extremely famous and gave them the comedic spotlight in this dumb, fun, smart, and dumb film. The cast consists of Amy Poehler, Michael Showwalter, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, Christopher Meloni, Ken Marino, Molly Shannon, Joe Lo Truglio, and many more. This was Bradley Cooper’s first film out of acting school and it still proves that comedic actors can play incredibly stupid roles in films like this one, and then they can make you sob uncontrollably in their more serious roles as famous country singers *cough *cough A Star Is Born.
It is very easy to watch Wet Hot American Summer. There isn’t much to think about. The plot is not intricate, the characters are all very similar (they are all pretty dumb), and watching a movie about summer camp is really, really fun. This movie takes place on the last day of summer camp at “Camp Firewood”. You don’t know much about the characters, but it’s safe to assume that they all know each other pretty well, considering that their parents force them to hangout together every summer. Every single character is an extremely over exaggerated version of a character you are probably already familiar with. Paul Rudd plays a horrible example of a boyfriend, in fact he plays the worst example of a boyfriend. Amy Poehler plays a controlling and verbally abusive theatre director, in fact she plays the most controlling and verbally abusive theatre director. Christopher Meloni plays a troubled Vietnam Veteran who now serves campers food, in fact this character is honestly just the most absurd character in the whole film. Every single character is amplified to be the absolute worst.
The relationships in Wet Hot American Summer don’t feel real nor tangible. There is hardly anything in this film that is relatable. That is what makes it so unique. No one is looking out for the kids and sometimes the kids are looking out for the adults. All roles are flipped. Campers are helping counselors get through divorce, and the counselors are just letting kids die. Although everything seems wrong in Wet Hot American Summer, the comedy is so right. There are not many films that display the humor that Showwalter and Wain seemed to have created. Everything is repetitive, everything is dumb, and everything is exaggerated.
This film falls into the “I Didn’t Know This Could Exist” category and it should be watched by everyone. You’ll either watch it for the first time and then watch it 1,000 more, or you’ll watch it for the first time, turn off your television and say to yourself “that is enough”. Although there is hardly any plot, that doesn’t mean you will never get to see a great Wet Hot American Summer plot. There are two television series on Netflix that take place before and after the original story called “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015)” and “Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (2017)”. Both have much better storylines and bring back nearly every cast member. If you really want to feel like you are at summer camp, I highly recommend watching the documentary “Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot (2015)”. The documentary goes behind the scenes of the original movie and it seems like the actors hardly worked. It feels as if they just went to an adult summer camp and had the time of their lives. Wet Hot American Summer isn’t just a movie, it is a mini-series, a documentary, and it is most importantly a lifestyle.