Wet Hot American Summer

Culture Warrior

When cinema history is written, what gets highlighted most often are the films that made an indelible mark: films that were beloved by critics, represented a particular cultural moment, or become a popular phenomenon. The films that aren’t often written about are the outliers: films that don’t make much sense in their context, didn’t function as an index of a larger cultural moment or trend, or didn’t make for significant hits or misses. However, with hindsight, those strange films that don’t belong, films orphaned without a definite place in history that can be made sense of, can eventually reveal themselves to be the most interesting, be they good or bad. 2001 was a strange year for comedy. In the latter part of that year, it seemed we needed a laugh more than ever, but no single film really filled that void. Unlike Meet the Parents in 2000 or My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002, 2001 was without a mammoth comedic hit. The once-crowned Farrelly brothers released the first of a string of underwhelming, forced films, and a gap in popular comedy cinema persisted until Judd Apatow turned a litany of non-photogenic sitcom stars into bona fide movie stars in 2005. Sure, 2001 had the expected combination of the hit sequel (American Pie 2), the romantic comedy (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and one genuinely inspired star-maker (Legally Blonde), but the comedy movies that existed just on the margins of the radar, if not off it entirely, reveal a crop of strange, […]

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In honor of the Fourth of July, we are republishing this article from January 2011, as we feel it to be an appropriate act of patriotism. We will now allow you to return to watching Independence Day for the third time. We know that you’re doing it… Aleric, one of our favorite comment providers on the site, tossed out an interesting theory the other day regarding the state of auspiciously pro-American movies being put out by Hollywood over the past ten years. Specifically, that there was a noticeable lack of them in the face of films that criticize. It’s an interesting idea, and like most trends, it’s unclear exactly how bold a trend it is. It’s true that those looking for the World War II levels of Americana from Hollywood are out in the cold. There are probably a dozen reasons for that. Levels of pro-American movie production have never been higher than that era, but it was also a wildly different time for movie making in general (no matter what the subject matter). Still, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius were charged with the seemingly difficult task of finding movies that celebrated the United States that came out of Hollywood in the past ten years. It’s an oddly specific list, but it’s also a very good list of movies that demand to be seen (whether you agree they’re patriotic or not). Plus, they don’t celebrate any particular political party. They celebrate the highest ideals of the country. Overt flag waving […]

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Director David Wain has been a big name in the alternative comedy scene for a long time due to his work on The State and Stella, but he’s still looked at as something of a neophyte in the world of feature films. He’s directed one cult hit with his weird summer camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer, and one mainstream hit with his criminals-turned-mentors movie Role Models; but his last film, Wanderlust, kind of came and went with only a whimper. Let’s just chalk that up to the fact that it had Jennifer Aniston in the lead, though. Has anyone ever heard of a comedy she was in making any money? Undaunted by the terrors of possible obscurity, Wain is going back to the drawing board and putting together another project. Variety has word that it’s a comedy called They Came Together, and that it comes from a screenplay that has deep roots in Wain’s past. He co-wrote the film with fellow The State and Stella member Michael Showalter right after Wet Hot American Summer came out. It was a simple time, before Wain had to concern himself with things like studio concerns and mainstream relatability. Which begs the question – will this long unproduced script see Wain returning to his more absurdist comedic roots? And, if that’s the case, will a healthy dose of weird be what it takes to re-engage the eyeballs of a public who all but ignored his last project?

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David Wain might have missed the 9:00 appointment ten years from when all the campers of Wet Hot American Summer got together, but he may still have a chance to see who they’ve all blossomed into. If you’re not getting the references here, go watch the movie. Don’t tell anyone you haven’t seen it. Just calmly, quietly watch it (instantly). According to an interview Wain did for The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith, the writer/director has been thinking about doing a “sequel, prequel, something or other” to get the gang back together. That gang includes Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and many, many, many other comedians wearing shorts that are too small for them. If Wain goes with his prequel idea, it would see actors in their late 30s and early 40s playing 20-year-old camp counselors, and there’s not one thing wrong with that.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. This week’s question comes from Managing Editor, Cole Abaius: I recently re-watched Ghostbusters for probably the 10th time in my life, and for the 10th time I loved it. There’s no question that it’s a fantastic, funny comedy, but there was always one scene that never worked for me. It kills an otherwise great moment. I’m talking, of course, about the scene where a ghost unzips Ray’s pants, and he giggles like a schoolgirl. Is it a dream? Does a ghost really fellate Ray? It’s unclear. But it’s clearly awful. It can’t be all bad, though, because it led me to this question: what’s a scene you hate from a movie you love?

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decade_teenmovies

Though they very seldom win awards, the best teen movies usually compel repeat viewings and somehow seem to intuit the needs and tastes of generations to come. Here are 15 of the decade’s most memorable explorations of all the intrinsic charms and traumas of teendom.

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turnedon-wethotamerican

This week, Bethany discovers that she’s not the only thing wet and hot this summer.

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Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott in Role Models

It’s been a pretty good summer for comedy, with flicks like Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express being box-office hits as well as laugh-your-ass-off hysterical, but don’t go picking your favorite of the year just yet…

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