Thursday, July 22, 2004


..."Wet Hot American Summer," and it was totally awesome! Somehow I missed this movie, which was directed by David Wain and co-written with Michael Showalter, both of whom were on MTV's "The State," and also do the "Stellla" weekly NYC live comedy show with fellow State castmember Ian Michael Black (AKA "Johnny Blue Jeans" from "Viva Variety.") This is a satire of campy camp classics like "Meatballs" and "Little Darlings," and boy, does it deliver the laffs. The cast includes Janeane Garofalo as the hippie camp director; David Hyde Pierce (AKA "Frasier's brother") as her astro-physicist love interest; Showalter as a dorky camp counselor; Black as a gay camp counselor; Amy Poehler as camp counselor/hard-ass talent show director; Paul Rudd as a jerky/studly camp counselor; Chris Meloni (from "Oz" and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit") as a deranged cook; Molly Shannon as the arts and crafts teacher going through a divorce; and various and sundry "State" cast members as more camp counselors. Although there were a couple of bothersome anachronisms (like the "Cure" girl, who I thought was a little out of place in a 1981 camp movie--but maybe THAT'S the joke, who knows?), mostly they got the look and mood of those late '70s/early '80s camp movies down pat, complete with a soundtrack TEEMING with Loverboy songs. There's a very funny montage of the counselors going into town; they go from smoking cigarrettes to smoking weed to laying around a flop house in a heroin-induced stupor in the course of an hour. I also really liked the arts and crafts kids who speak very adultly to Molly Shannon about her breakup; the "rag-tag group of misfit" campers deciding that the softball championship game is "too trite" to carry out; the various kids tossed out of a speeding van when they became troublesome; the serial make-out queen; the gay wedding scene with Ian Michael Black and his lover wearing dashikis and flowers in their hair; Amy Poehler chewing out the kids doing a number from "Godspell" because they are not taking their "craft" seriously enough; oh, I could go on and on.

The DVD contains lots of extras, including many deleted scenes, with or without commentary by Showalter and Wain; one of the deleted scenes has Wain and Kerry Kenney from "Reno 911!" and "Viva Variety"; there were also more scenes of Amy Poehler saying things like "if you treat your craft like a lover, it will pay you back." I also enjoyed the deleted shot-by-shot re-enactment of a scene from "Animal House" that the director said no one "got" at the preview screening. Well, I got it and laughed my ass off! There are also interviews with some of the cast members about why they did the movie; a "making of" mini-documentary; trailers; songs; and cast/crew bios.

This definitely seemed like a labor of love for everyone involved; it was fun to see people like Chris Meloni flexing their comic muscles instead of scary "Oz" ones, and the whole movie is just thoroughly enjoyable and funny and over-the-top. Rent or Netflix it before the summer is over!

Felt Up Score:
Home Run!

NEXT UP: "The Night Porter," which breaks my cardinal rule of never watching ANYthing about the Holocaust, but since it involves kinky sex...well, what the hell.

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