|Or maybe I found a film to satisfy my short shorts fetish|
Since Wet Hot American Summer is a spoof, the plot is both stupid and terribly unimportant. Basically, it's the last day at Camp Firewood Jewish summer camp in 1981. Shy nice guy counselor Coop (Michael Showalter) wants to impress his dream girl and fellow counselor, Katie (Marguerite Moreau), and get her to leave her asshole boyfriend (Paul Rudd). Of course, being an 80s spoof, the only way to accomplish this is through a training montage. Meanwhile, local stud muffin Victor (Ken Marino) has to figure out how to take some campers on an overnight rafting trip while simultaneously having sexy time with a horny and less than subtle girl. While that is going on, Susie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) are trying to put on the best talent show the camp has ever seen, and they take their job very seriously.
|This was over the top until Dance Moms came around|
|SPOILER: He saves them with the power of his 'stache|
The acting isn't very important in Wet Hot American Summer. Every character is essentially a one-note caricature of teen movies from the 80s. As far as that goes, the cast is fine and they play their parts pretty well. As far as I'm concerned the standouts were Paul Rudd's (I hate to admit it) great work as the gleefully horrible boyfriend and Christopher Meloni as the crazy Vietnam vet, if only because it is so different from anything else I've seen him in.
|I don't know who made this, but it is 8 bits of glorious|
Of course, this isn't the sort of movie that was ever going to wow anyone with its acting. This is a dumb comedy, so the writing and directing should be more important. David Wain directed and co-wrote this movie with Michael Showalter (Coop). As far as that goes, Wet Hot American Summer probably won't surprise you. It looks and feels like the work of sketch comedians, possibly because it is a series of loosely related sketches. That's not a terrible thing; Wain manages to avoid that all too common SNL-movie pitfall of mistaking a a silly premise for 90+ minutes of comedy gold. Yes, there is a stupid premise in place. Yes, there are some not very funny conceptual jokes running throughout the film, like the ages of these "teenage" counselors. That doesn't matter, though. This is a movie that knows it is shallow and stupid and tries to make you laugh with what it has to offer.
|Like training montages|
|Example: this could have been caused by a super glue mishap, but noooo...!|
I went into this with low expectations, and many of them, unfortunately, were met. I still don't find Molly Shannon or Amy Poehler funny. Paul Rudd still irritates me, although I have noticed that the less of a normal guy he plays, the more I like him. I also realized that Michael Ian Black, who is capable of delivering one-liners, apparently needs other people to deliver his jokes for him in sketches. And despite a brief period where people cast her in movies, Janeane Garofalo has never been much of an actress, typically playing the same basic character over and over again in every film.
|I wonder if she's going to say something sarcastic|
Despite all that, I actually didn't dislike Wet Hot American Summer. It's a light-hearted, dumb comedy that pays tribute to some classic teen flicks that were never all that good to begin with. This isn't a bad comedy; it just underachieves. I spent some time pondering why I was more or less indifferent to this film, but kind of liked David Wain's more recent (and successful) movie, Role Models. According to my exhaustive analysis, there are two key differences. First, Wet Hot American Summer is completely lacking in-depth explanations of the KISS songbook, and that is a missed opportunity. Second, that movie actually had a plot and character development. That can make all the difference. If this film went for broke with the stupidness and turned out a brainless jem in the tradition of Airplane! or Kentucky Fried Movie, I would have been all for it. Instead, it half-asses an inconsequential plot and winds up making only about half the jokes it probably should have.