The summer camp sex farce is a lost art, but through Wet Hot American Summer we can relive the annual ritual of mosquito bites, hickeys and s'mores by the campfire light. A loving tribute to lusty, early Reagan-era teen flicks like Meatballs and Gorp, this breezy spoof is set on the last day at Camp Firewood 1981, a Jewish youth retreat facing the threats of dangerous whitewater rapids, raging hormones, too-tight cut-offs, and a burning chunk of SkyLab falling on the talent show.
Directed by David Wain, Wet Hot stars his fellow The State sketch comedy alumni Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino and a host of other go-to funny folks (Janeane Garafolo, Molly Shannon, David Hyde Pierce, Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd.)
Seen by about 12 people in New York and L.A., and mostly hated by critics upon its 2001 release, the movie has slowly built its rep in true cult fashion. Constant Comedy Central showings and old-fashioned word-of-mouth have earned the flick a devoted audience that digs its cheesy horndog characters and absurdist humor.
If you don't get a giggle from Christopher Meloni as a tweaked-out Nam vet chef who gets advice from a talking can of beans, this might not be the picture for you. For others, it's a giddy nostalgia rush of feathered hair, tiny-booty-hugging shorts, knee socks and Loverboy rock ballad histrionics. The gags are admittedly scattershot, but like its nerdy, sex-obsessed hero, the movie keeps trying to score with single-minded abandon.
Midnight, Friday, June 22, at the Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].