Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

wet hot american summer poster 2001 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Smart story, cast, and visuals if you let yourself go with it

Not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Wet Hot American Summer

Studio:  USA Films

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  July 27, 2001

MPAA Rating:  R


It’s so wet & hot this summer

It’s the last day of summer camp for Camp Firewood, and it is now or never for the counselors and the campers.  Coop (Michael Showalter) pines to tell Katie (Marguerite Moreau) his true feelings for her so she’ll dump Andy (Paul Rudd).  McKinley Dozen (Michael Ian Black) and his relationship with Ben (Bradley Cooper) is exposed, and Victor Pulak (Ken Marino) discovers his opportunity for his first time slipping away when he’s sent on a rafting trip with Neil (Joe Lo Truglio).  Cook Gene (Christopher Meloni) fights his Vietnam flashbacks with the help of a talking can of vegetables, and Gail von Kleinenstein (Molly Shannon) is rallied by the arts and crafts students to continue with her life without her husband.  As Steve (Kevin Sussman) prepares for his big premiere at the last night talent contest by Susie (Amy Poehler), Beth (Janeane Garofalo) and Professor Henry Newman (David Hyde Pierce) try to help the nerdy campers stop oncoming doom from space!


I trust no one…except this can of vegetables…

Directed by David Wain and written by Wain and Showalter, Wet Hot American Summer is a spoof of camp movies that became popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s with Meatballs and other films.  The movie was ravaged by critics and bombed at the box office but quickly gained a cult following on TV and video.

I didn’t see Wet Hot American Summer in the theater but I saw it soon after it came out on VHS.  Watching it with a group, the whole group really got into the goofiness of the story and the commitment of the actors to it.  The concept of spoofing camp movies might have been a bit past its prime by the time Showalter and Wain got around to it, but they do it with style.


The Kenyans always win capture the flag

The film follows the cliché of having everything happen in one day.  This “one day” plan is added to by having every camp cliché you can throw in there (ok the alien of Meatballs Part II isn’t there, but you do get Skylab).  The fact that all of these events are occurring in one day adds to the humor…I have to say one of my favorite parts is the excursion to town where the counselors smoke, drink, then decide to buy cocaine and heroin…all in an hour.  It is fun, goofy, and illogical and that is why it works.

The cast fully commits to the film as well and it was a nice collection of actors for it.  Many of the cast were veterans of MTV’s The State so there is already chemistry among a lot of the cast mates (and I imagine that a lot of the script and dialogue was brainstormed).  Other actors like Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Poehler went on to other bigger things after the film.  You also have The Big Bang Theory’s geeky Kevin Sussman and 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander in small roles with Archer’s H. Jon Benjamin providing the voice of the canned vegetables.


Camp Firewood is so progressive

The movie also has a great look.  The clothes are all early ’80s and with actors intentionally playing younger characters they all look ridiculous in them.  It isn’t quality, but the movie isn’t going for quality but laughs due to the cheapness and dated style of camp films.  Some probably won’t enjoy some of the more surreal moments (like not being able to get around a bale of straw), but if you let yourself go with it, it is fun.

Wet Hot American Summer will not tickle everyone’s funny bone, but it did reach mine.  I like the quick goofy humor of the movie and it is one of those movies that can be watched over and over again to pick up little jokes.  With the cult success of Wet Hot American Summer, a prequel (long time in the making) was released on Netflix in 2015 with the cast returning to reprise their even younger roles.

Related Links:

Wet Hot American Summer:  First Day of Camp

Wet Hot American Summer:  Ten Years Later

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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