Welcome to this week’s installment of “It Came from the Bargain Bin!”
It is mid-Summer and I think that it is only right that we pay homage to those summer-camp movies that most of us watched and enjoyed when we were growing up. Movies like Meatballs, starring Bill Murray and Chris Makepeace (you know the kid “Rudy The Rabbit” that Bill Murray’s character ”Tripper” took under his wing) and Little Darlings, starring Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol as two teenage girls who have a bet on who will lose their virginity first at summer-camp. There are other summer- camp films of course but to me Meatballs and Little Darlings are timeless classics that bring you back to a time when many kids left for summer camp and arrived back home from camp a little wiser than before. This week’s selection from The Bin is actually a spoof of those summer-camp movies of the seventies and eighties so this particular comedy seemed like a must view for The Bargain Bin segment. This week’s pick from The Bargain Bin is the 2001 comedy Wet Hot American Summer!
Wet Hot American Summer
Director: David Wain
Written By: Michael Showalter and David Wain
Starring: Janeane Garofolo, David Hyde Pierce, and Michael Showalter
Reviewed By: Joe Sikes
It’s the last day of camp, August 18, 1981, there’s love in the air and hormones going out of control. Camp ”Firewood” Director Beth (Janeane Garofolo) is having her morning coffee while watching the boy campers scramble back to their cabins fresh from an early morning kissing party in the girls’ quarters. Beth, for a second or two, shows mild concern for her campers’ blatant display of insubordination, that is until her attention is focused on new camp neighbor/astrophysics professor, Henry Newman (David Hyde Pierce). While the boys prepare for the day by torturing camp counselor Gerald Cooperburg or ‘Coop’ (Michael Showalter) by screaming the song “Juke Box Hero” and the girls are being dressed to impress the boys at the kickball game by camp counselor Katie (Marguerite Moreau) Beth decides to introduce herself to her new crush next door. After painfully awkward introductions and exchanging pleasantries Beth goes out on a limb and asks Professor Newman if he would like to teach the kids at “Camp Firewood” about space. The Professor loudly rejects Beth’s offer causing Beth to run away, visibly hurt. Professor Newman soon sees the error of his ways, heads over to the camp, and recruits a group of the less physically active campers to join his space group.
While love may be in bloom between Beth and The Professor, the counselors are forging new relationships as well: Katie, who is constantly belittled by her tough guy, super-jerk, jean suited boyfriend, Andy (Paul Rudd), is slowly gaining interest in ‘Coop’, who secretly digs her back. Victor (Ken Marino), who according to him, has “pollenated every berry bush” at the camp, all except for Abby Bernstein (Marissa Ryan) who Victor has targeted next. McKinley (Michael Ian Black) is in love with Ben (Bradley Cooper) who is producing the stage show musical ”Godspell” for the Camp Firewood Talent Contest with his power hungry friend Susie (Amy Poehler) who is the director/choreographer of the show. Take all of the previously described relationship scenarios, add curiously psychotic Vietnam Vet, Gene (Christopher Merloni), a chunk of equipment from NASA’s Skylab racing towards the camp threatening to destroy everything and everyone at Camp Firewood, a and an endless amount of, dare I say……..camp (I apologize for the horrible pun but it was practically unavoidable) and you have one “Wet Hot American Summer.”
There is no shortage of comedic star power in Wet Hot American Summer. If you were a fan of the MTV comedy sketch show The State that ran from 1993 to 1995 than you will recognize actors like Mike Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, and Joe Lo Truglio. Throw in Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live fame, Bradley Cooper, and David Hyde Pierce and the cast alone can save a few jokes that don’t quite hit. But for every joke that may fall flat there’s at least a few scenes that make you laugh out loud. Wet Hot American Summer does take you back to the camp movies of your youth and it hits you in the head with some hilariously ridiculous camp comedy that hits more than it misses. I give Wet Hot American Summer 2 out of 3 disturbed camp counselors. See you next week with another pick from The Bin.