Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wet Hot American Summer (David Wain, 2001)

Of course, wouldn't you know it, all my memories of camp involve getting frostbite, sleeping in a mice-infested cabin and being shunned by chunky Finnish chicks. I mean, seriously, whose bright idea was it to drag a bunch of kids from the relative comfort of the big city and plop them in the middle of the wilderness? Oh, did I mention that this wilderness dragging took place in the middle of January? No? Well, it totally did. Sure, I didn't have to spend the entire winter up in Algonquin Park, but you try spending three days locked in a drafty cabin with a bunch of people you don't like. In other words, there were no Abby Bernstein's to swap mouth spit with, no burger-flavoured blondes to swap mouth spit with, and there were definitely no bowlegged brunettes named Katie to swap mouth spit with either. Even though it's filled heartbreak, casual child murder, flippant heroin usage and sexual perversions you didn't even think existed, I envied the characters who populate Wet Hot American Summer, one of the greatest summer camp movies of all-time.

All this talk of swapping mouth spit got me thinking: Anyone wanna guess whose mouth spit I desperately wanted to swap with after watching this movie? Okay, you in the purple muumuu. (I'm going to say, Ron von Kleinstain.) Yes, I wanna swap mouth spit with Judah Friedlander. Ha ha, very funny.

Yeah, you. Yeah, the guy in the Quebec Nordiques jersey. (Well, since you mentioned her first, and given you're exquisite taste in women, I'm going to go ahead and guess that you wanted to swap mouth spit with Abby Bernstein.) Ding, ding, motherfuckin' ding! We have a wiener. By the way, anytime I see someone wearing a hockey jersey that isn't a Quebec Nordiques jersey, I shake my head in disgust.

At any rate, not only did I want to swap mouth spit with Abby Bernstein, I wanted to pound her pussy into submission. I know, I better get in line if I want to pound anything located on Abby's shapely organic structure, as her wet hot American holes are very popular throughout Camp Firewood. But still, every time the sexy camp counselor in the pink "I've Been Civilized Long Enough" t-shirt would appear onscreen, significant biological changes would occur within certain pants-based parts of my anatomy.

In a weird twist, not much is really pounded in this movie. That is, if you don't count a helpless Frigidaire and Bradley Cooper's not quite limitless asshole, as both those things are pounded pretty hard. No, as far as showing the characters displaying affection for one another, writer-director David Wain seems to have a thing for open mouth kissing.

Alright, maybe calling it a "thing" is a bit of a stretch, but there were times where it felt like I was watching a series of scenes strung together that featured Paul Rudd's Andy aggressively making out with a burger-flavoured blonde (Elizabeth Banks) or a bowlegged brunette (Marguerite Moreau), or Abby Bernstein (Marisa Ryan) aggressively making out with, well, just about everyone.

Oh, and when I say, "everyone," I mean, everyone. Don't believe me. Okay, you see that kid who lit one of his farts on fire at the talent show? She totally makes out with him.

It's August 18, 1981 and it's the last day of camp. Located somewhere in the wilds of Maine, the campers and counselors at Camp Firewood have one last chance to make some memories that will, hopefully, last a lifetime.

A sexually frustrated camp counselor named Coop (Michael Showalter) sees this day as his final opportunity to woo Katie (that's right, the bowlegged brunette). Only problem being, she spends a better part of her day cleaning out the inside of Andy's mouth with her tongue.

While Coop's focus is on Katie, a sexually frustrated camp counselor named Victor (Ken Marino) sets his sights on Abby Bernstein, the hottest female camp counselor on the entire Eastern Seaboard.

When Victor spots Abby licking a spoon in the camp mess hall in an erotic manner, he nearly jizzes in his jean shorts.

It looks like the nerdy kid in the cape (Gabriel Millman) is beating both Coop and Victor to the punch. No, he's not making a play for Katie and Abby. He's hitting on a bunch of girls his own age in the mess hall. Sure, his attempt to court them goes terribly awry when the focal point of his advances (the blonde on the right) calls him a "douchebag", but at least he's making an effort. Which is more than I can say for the adults in this movie.

Take Henry (David Hyde Pearce), for example, a sexually frustrated astrophysicist who is spending the summer living in a cabin next to Camp Firewood. He's hit on by Beth (Janeane Garofalo), the camp director. But what does he do? He pushes her away after she asks him if would like to come teach the kids about science.

If you think that's it as far as sexually frustrated characters go, you would be wrong. Get ready, because we're about to meet Gene (Christopher Meloni), the camp's, you guessed it, sexually frustrated chef/Vietnam vet. Though, to be fair, Gene's frustration goes well beyond anything sexual. Whether letting slip that he has a bottle of dick cream, informing others that he wants to fondle his sweaters, getting the word out that he needs to smear mud on his ass, or telling those who will listen that he wishes to hump a fridge, Gene has some serious issues to work out. However, I don't think a single day in late August is enough time for Gene to fix what's wrong with him.

Or is it? You'd be surprised by what one can accomplish in a single day, especially at camp in the early 1980s.

The film's best scene when it comes to getting a lot of shit done in a short amount of time just happens to be the film's funniest. It's when Beth drives into town to pick up some lube for Nancy (Nina Hellman), the camp's nurse (the lube, by the way, is for her pussy). As she's driving away, a group of camp counselors hop in the back of her truck. What happens next is the greatest montage to involve french fry consumption, cigarette smoking, beer drinking, marijuana usage, back-alley cocaine purchasing, purse snatching and heroin abuse in the history of cinema.

I know, some people will tell you that the scene where a jean jacket wearing Paul Rudd reluctantly cleans up after himself in the mess hall is the funniest scene in the film. It's true, the scene is funny (he really doesn't want to pick up those utensils off the floor), but the amount of involuntary laughter I expelled from my primary laugh-hole as I watched a twitchy Janeane Garofalo laid out in the corner of a dilapidated drug den was off the charts.

Speaking of Janeane, the scene where her character puts mousse in her hair to impress Henry was very relatable. I mean, haven't we all put mousse in our hair to impress someone at some point in our lives? While the mousse does impress Henry (it gives her hair more volume), her lack of knowledge when it comes to astrophysics could doom their relationship before it even begins. However, a quick trip to the library solves  that problem, as the town's library has a surprisingly robust astrophysics section.

Oh, it wouldn't hurt if Henry stopped by the library to do some boning up as well (a relationship is a two way street). Luckily, like their astrophysics section, their one on camp directing is surprisingly robust as well.

Did I mention that Molly Shannon and Amy Poehler are in this movie? (like Andy, I'm way too lazy to check). Whatever, Molly plays an art teacher whose going through some marital problems (she's comforted by one of her students) and Amy Poehler plays the director... or is she the producer? She runs the camp's theatre with Bradley Cooper. Anyway, the art teacher plotline gets creepier and creepier as the film progresses and I loved it when Amy uses the word "usurp."  As in: "How dare you usurp my authority..." The emphasis she puts on "usurp" made me giggle.

Boasting a talking can of mixed vegetables, four child murders (well, two of them are negligent homicides), a gay tool shed sex scene, two Ruth Buzzi references, a character credited as "Cure Girl," a non-played baseball game (my favourite kind), "Love Is Alright Tonite" by Richard Springfield, Elizabeth Banks in a bikini, and at least two scenes that involve the stunning Abby Bernstein shoving a stick of gum in her mouth before inhaling some guys face, Wet Hot American Summer is one of the few movies to capture the spirit of the early 1980s, and I have no problem whatsoever placing it alongside other camp-set classics such as Sleepaway Camp and Little Darlings. Sex, drugs and casual child murder! Woo-hoo!

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