Life kinda got real the week that I wrote this.
Well, life is always real, but things got very heavy with a lot of news around the country having an insane vibe. It’s hard to think about frivolous things like movies when it’s like this, and yet, it’s one of those retreats that lets me deal with the hard parts of life. That is when I have to find something that gives me genuine pleasure.
Wet Hot American Summer is one of those movies. And yet, it might not be for you.
Why is Wet Hot American Summer not for everyone?
Well, first, a little background on me. I’m a junkie for vaguely weird comedy. I say that I was raised on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Adult Swim shows, specifically Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. What do these things have in common?
Absurdity. They completely trade on the idea of the absurd and the trappings of normality. Every time you see something normal, you have to be completely ready for the next turn to come around. WHAS is deeply invested in the idea of the absurdity and strangeness. This is movie that has a meet cute that ends with one of the characters saying “I want you inside of me”, another meet cute with a character screaming at another “I SAID I DON’T WANT TO”, a chef that was in Vietnam who has a deeply inappropriate relationship with a fridge, a sound effect whenever something is dropped.
Let’s just let Eric Andre explain it.
The idea of playing on a formula is difficult for some people to get behind. Each part of the formula is going to be subverted while hewing close enough to the actual ideas to keep having an eerie resonance.
Every single image in this movie is designed to create the “last day of camp” feel. It seems like it is going to be the average last day of camp movie, but then the characters are actually complete dickheads. The counselors don’t give a fuck, look like they’re way too old. The camp is incredibly obviously a jewish day camp. Everyone is swearing a ton. Molly Shannon ends up having a meltdown over her divorce and crying about everything, and falling in love with a young time traveling Tim Matheson, who might be my favorite idea in the whole thing.
Literally All Your Favorite People Are In This Movie
Hey, did you like Ant-man or 40 Year Old Virgin? Paul Rudd is in this movie. Do you like Children’s Hospital‘s Glenn Richie? Ken Marino is in the movie. Michael Showalter, Amy Pohler, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, and Janeane Garofalo. H. Jon Benjamin. Joe Lo Truglio. Molly Shannon. Elizabeth Banks. David Hyde Peirce.
If you want to break it down, a lot of people you love are in this movie. From this movie, people have been all over these different things. There are so many different weird people inside this movie, you will be seeing people at the start of their big careers.
Everything is a Bit
Every scenario in this movie is designed to make jokes. The jokes fire as fast as possible, creating weird overlaps in the laughing. It rewards re-watching, where you can catch huge changes and differences. Literally every intstant in this movie has a gag or visual idea going on. It also has the best montage in movie history. (I will probably say this about another montage. Rocky comes to mind.)
And here is the problem. If you don’t find that kind of insanity funny, you won’t find this movie funny. I’ve been talking with people since I have seen this movie who think it is dumb and has absolutely no redeeming qualities. One of these is my sister, who I love, and I have attempted to figure out how to open people up to this movie. It rewards investing in it just enough. Instead of trying to figure out what is going on, or accepting traditional logic, it’s a movie that begs that you buy into it’s insane logic.
So, don’t watch it like it is a movie that makes sense. Buy in. It’s way better if you do.