Released: July 2001 USA
Awards: Not a fuckin one
Fun Fact: Was Bradley Cooper’s first feature film.
Further Watching: “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” (Netflix Original Series), Hurricane Of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot American Summer.
No one had really heard of Wet Hot American Summer mostly down to the fact it was a massive flop despite having a pretty solid cast in it’s day. While Bradley Cooper would go on to bigger and better things, it starred Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce (Niles from Frasier) and Christopher Meloni (of “Oz” fame) so with acting talent like that it should have come out of the blocks fighting. Unknown writer directors in David Wain and Michael Showalter, and a pretty mad premise where people clearly in their late 20’s are playing 16-year-olds on the last day of summer camp obviously didn’t seem too appealing to cinema goers at the time.
The humour bares similarities to British comedy like Monty Python with many jokes being daft and silly with seemingly no punch line or real point of reference. The trip into town being a prime example. It didn’t skirt around subjects either, with a “leaves nothing to the imagination” gay sex scene between Bradley Cooper and Michael Ian Black. Most of the scenes are self contained sketches that can be hit or miss, a stand-out set piece is when the arts and crafts teacher is counselled by her pupils yet the running joke of Meloni being in love with his refrigerator doesn’t hold water.
Many would say the sketch feel to the film undermines it and highlights poor writing but this scattergun approach means there is something for everyone. The completion of the film is an impressive result given that for a film supposed to be at a sunny summer camp it rained for about 85% of the shoot. The TV show is even more ridiculous and seems to have been total indulgence for the cast and crew with the only real highlight being the appearance of Jon Hamm.
The film knows its roots come from films such as Animal House and also borrows from cheesy horror films, minus the violence. Its heart is in the right place and with some solid laughs and zany set ups it’s certainly worth checking out.