Two days, and two 14 year old movies that I should’ve seen a long, long time ago. Today’s Movie Month feature is the 2001 comedy, Wet Hot American Summer. Really, I have been doing for the past nearly decade and a half?
This movie was totally the opposite type of movie compared to yesterday’s action/drama. In fact, this movie was even different than what I was expecting it to be. All I knew going in was that it was a summer camp comedy written and directed by some of the guys from MTV’s cult classic, The State.
When I started to watch it, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was seeing. I mean, I knew this was a movie about summer camp, but something felt off. And as the movie went on and on, I realized that it was a movie set in a summer camp, but really it was a movie that was playing on the many tropes and cliches that we see in movies like this. I don’t want to say that this was out-an-out parody film, but it was closer to a parody than that of straight forward comedy.
The movie was basically ridiculous, hilarious, and not based in any reality whatsoever. And I loved it.
As I was watching it, I realized that the director and writer (David Wain) and writer (Michael Showalter) created another, more recent movies, with many of the same actors called They Came Together. That movie was a ridiculous borderline-parody as well, focusing more on the romantic comedy genre.
It almost took me a little while to get used to Wet Hot’s style, and now I want to go back and watch it a couple times before the end of July. Why is that? Well, I’ll get to that later. First I want to mention a few things of note.
- I love Paul Rudd. He can play the perfect, sweet, nice guy well – but when he plays a dick he can be hilarious. In this movie, he plays a dick – and not a very responsible camp counselor.
- When I first discovered The State back in high school, I fell in love with it’s ridiculous, silly, brilliant comedy style, and 20+ years later I still find these guys (and gal, though not in this movie) hilarious.
- Molly Shannon is hilarious, and her scenes are some of my favorite.
- When these guys take a trip into town, they don’t f**k around.
- I forgot how much I can enjoy Janeane Garofalo.
- There are so many recognizable faces in this movie. Looking back now and seeing Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper and Elizabeth Banks in this, I wonder how people took them back then – because they weren’t as well known as they are today, if they were even known. It’s funny seeing it for the first time and having hindsight as to where people’s careers go.
- And I love that the journey these characters take is all done in one day. Brilliant.
So why do I want to watch this a few more times before July? For years there were talks about doing a follow-up. The joke was that they were going to do a prequel set in the same year, with the joke being that in the movie the counselors were already 10 years older than their characters, and now they’d be playing even younger versions (by a couple months) and be 20 years older than their characters should be.
Finally it was announced that Netflix was picking up the prequel as an 8-episode mini-series called “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” and almost everybody in the case (including all the names I mentioned above) are returning. The series will be written once again by David Wain and Michael Showalter, and Wain will be directing it.
There are times when I am jealous of people who are watching a movie or series that I love for the first time. They get to experience it new, and you can only do that once. This time I have the exact opposite feeling. I am jealous of the people who fell in love with this movie back in 2001. Those people have loved this movie for 14 years and finally hearing about and seeing that these characters are going to be back on screen, it must be a great feeling.
Me? I’m going to watch and enjoy the series, but I’m a newbie. Tonight was the first time I’ve seen this movie, so the fact that it’s coming back is great, but the movie didn’t mean a lot to me, so the return just isn’t as special.
Doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy every second though!