Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

If you've seen this movie, you probably either live with me or hate it. Wet Hot American Summer came out to no fanfare at all and aside from a few positive blurbs in movie mags disappeared even more quietly. But I have never, and I mean never, laughed so hard in my life. And I mean probably 20 viewings and counting.

The thing is, this movie is incredibly stupid in an insanely smart way. All logic has been abandoned; aside from the set-up of a summer camp run by Janeane Garofalo and assorted members of The State (and The Baxter's Michael Showalter, who co-wrote, with notable turns by David Hyde Pierce and Paul Rudd), there is no reason in anything than happens. Indeed, much of the fun comes from the noticing the intentional lack of continuity, as long scenes transpire in mere minutes according to the time stamps and knitted scarves appear and disappear at random. At one point Pierce hands a huge prop off-screen to no one—and every discarded object makes a glass-breaking sound.

This may not sound like much, but there's verbal idiocy too!

"Oh yeah, there's some kids caught in the obstacle course. I meant to tell you about that yesterday."

"Listen, Henry... " "Please, call me Henry. " "Okay, Henry it is."

"Now we need to make 8 gallons of bug juice by snack hour, do you know where the powder packets are?"
"Yeah. "
"In the pantry, above the sink, right next to my bottle of dick cream. Uh, wait, forget that last part. "
"Did you say dick cream?"
"No! I said next to my... stick... team, you know stick team! Stickball! Go away leave me alone!"

Okay, I could go on for days, and you still wouldn't get the point. There's a talking can of corn. There's a vegan goth girl. There's a training montage. A gay wedding. My point is that there's a fine line between stupidity being, well, stupid, and stupidity being intentional and brilliant. Think "Monty Python" or "Kids in the Hall," but if the last group had made a good movie.

I don't think this film lasted in the theater for more than two minutes, but any DVD that has an optional "extra farts" soundtrack has its own charm. Plus, unless you're a humorless loser, you'll appreciate being in your own living room so that you can dissolve into hysterics in comfort. Oh, and don't neglect the deleted scenes, most of which deserve to be in the movie.

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