Cult hit. So this is about a summer camp, and all of the counselors that work there. It’s the last day of camp, so everybody has one last opportunity to try and hook up and/or wrap up any unfinished business. This movie is an anomaly. It wasn’t received well critically, and it’s currently sitting on a 32% on rottentomatoes.com through the past 14 years. It wasn’t received well financially, either, only grossing a little under $300k during its theatrical run. Despite its shortcomings, it still managed to find its audience over time, and the people who like this? They are as rabid as any fan base out there.
I am in the big minority of this in that I don’t harbor the massive adoration that the die hard fans do, and I don’t fall into the group of people that just don’t get the joke. I only like this film, and I strongly suggest that you try this on for yourself to see if this is meant for you or not. I think the reason why I don’t side with either camp (no pun intended, I swear) in this polarizing comedy is the way I viewed it; this was my first time actually sitting down and watching this film as a whole, as I’ve seen it entirely in bits and pieces on Comedy Central previously. It’s an offbeat awkward sense of humor, and regardless if you love it or hate it, I do not begrudge anybody for how they feel about this movie. Director David Wain has a very unique sense of humor that is very subjective, and it either leads to success (Role Models, the television series Stella) or failure (Wanderlust). Wet Hot American Summer is far more funny than it is not.
The cast in this movie is not only talented, it’s downright impressive. You have so many familiar faces before they gained an ounce of popularity, like Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Ken Marino. There is even a very young Bradley Cooper in his first big screen role, and it’s an odd sensation to see these actors before their rise to stardom, and even more so that they’re all featured in the same movie. The way it’s divided up makes it very easy to keep your focus, and they know what they’re doing with running jokes and absurd sucker punches. Wet Hot American Summer is at its strongest when it does something completely out of left field that catches you off guard, and I recommend you watch this for yourself, if only to see if you can be included in the large number of people out there that love this.
Wet Hot American Summer (2001) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire