Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

A friend loves this film, and somehow it had passed me by when it was made, but there’s a Netflix series coming up soon, so I thought I’d better catch up with it. Perhaps I overlooked it because, as I recently discovered, it was loathed by critics at the time. I’ve no idea why. Sure it’s silly, and maybe it’s true, as one critic avers, that it’s impossible to really satirise 80s teen films. Having grown up with dreck like Revenge of the Nerds (1984) — one of the better titles — I was hardly keen to revisit the territory. However, it’s certainly possible to have fun with the genre, and in ways that are less sleazy and exploitative than some of those straight-to-VHS entries seemed at the time. Well, this film has fun with the genre. Janeane Garofalo plays the director of a summer camp, and a range of comedians (some established, some like Elizabeth Banks and Amy Poehler who would go on to further success later on) play her staff. The film’s focus is mostly on everyman Coop (played by the film’s co-writer Michael Showalter), but it’s in the surrounding ensemble that the comedy is found. To me, the comic highlights seem to be Paul Rudd as the obstreperous and childish yet unlikely ladies’ man Andy, and Christopher Meloni’s Vietnam veteran chef Gene. Hopefully, it’ll translate well to series-length television, but the breadth of talent and the likeability of the cast should be in its favour.


FILM REVIEW
Director David Wain | Writers David Wain and Michael Showalter | Cinematographer Ben Weinstein | Starring Michael Showalter, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Meloni | Length 97 minutes || Seen at home (streaming), London, Saturday 11 July 2015

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