Wet Hot American Summer

Critics Consensus

Wet Hot American Summer's incredibly talented cast is too often outmatched by a deeply silly script that misses its targets at least as often as it skewers them.

36%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 73

76%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,634

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Movie Info

The setting is Camp Firewood, the year 1981. It's the last day before everyone goes back to the real world, but there's still a summer's worth of unfinished business to resolve. At the center of the action is camp director Beth, who struggles to keep order while she falls in love with the local astrophysics professor. He is busy trying to save the camp from a deadly piece of NASA's Skylab which is hurtling toward earth. All that, plus: a dangerous waterfall rescue, love triangles, misfits, cool kids, and talking vegetable cans. The questions will all be resolved, of course, at the big talent show at the end of the day.

Cast

Michael Showalter
as Coop/Alan Shemper
Ken Marino
as Victor
Gabriel Millman
as Caped Boy
Kevin Thomas Conroy
as Medieval Kid
Madeline Blue
as Cure Girl
Cassidy Ladden
as Mallrat Girl
Peter Salett
as Guitar Dude
H. Jon Benjamin
as Can of Vegetables
Ian Helfer
as Bear Claw Coach
Avi Setton
as Standup Comic
Kyle Gallner
as Bobby's Buddy
Kathleen Pandolfo
as Godspell Girl
Zachary Montgomery-Wicks
as Gail's Boy Camper
Danny Hopkins
as Raft Camper No. 1
Christopher Connors
as Raft Camper No. 2
Matt Carmeci
as Bunk Boy
Stephen O'Brien
as Juke Box Kid No. 1
Timothy Gasiewski
as Juke Box Kid No. 2
Angel Berlane
as Friends, Friends Girl No. 1
Christi Berlane
as Friends, Friends Girl No. 2
Bob Walz
as Drug Dealer
Joseph Kariuki
as Kenyan Runner
Donna Mitchell
as Gene's Wife
Joe Bryan
as Counselor
Sandra Kennedy
as Counselor
Keith Oney
as Counselor
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News & Interviews for Wet Hot American Summer

Critic Reviews for Wet Hot American Summer

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (47)

  • But even with its tackiness arched at an ironic angle, "Wet Hot American Summer's" long-term fate is to become at best a last-minute accessory to a Blockbuster night of pizza and beverages.

    March 31, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The title of this inventive absurdist comedy (2001) is meant to mislead-it's not a sex movie but a parody, and the loose feel is part of its genius.

    March 31, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Structured only by its time frame (the last day of camp) and total commitment to casualness, the movie feels tossed off in the most appealing way,

    March 31, 2019 | Full Review…
  • This shamefully underpromoted, gloriously silly romp made me laugh harder than any other movie this summer...this blissfully unimportant movie starts in a deceptively low key, gradually unveiling its total lunacy.

    March 8, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • The skewering of underdog sports clichs, horny teen staples and Vietnam-trauma melodrama is long overdue and perfectly irreverent in execution.

    July 28, 2011 | Full Review…

    William Goss

    Film.com
    Top Critic
  • Fairly hilarious -- if still scattershot -- final reels will leave auds feeling they've gotten their money's worth.

    May 20, 2008 | Full Review…

    Dennis Harvey

    Variety
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Wet Hot American Summer

  • May 11, 2020
    Janeane Garofalo gamely heads the cast of this teen comedy designed for the gigglesnort teen set, and those sad hapless souls who might be assigned to watch over them for one summer month. The story follows a group of counselors as they go through their Animal House paces, negotiating the final fling of a New England summer camp. Their adventures are typical for those of us who've seen this done a time or two, with nothing different to recommend the thing. First timers though might get a giggle or two out of the scandalous-ness of all the shenanigans.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2015
    Before indulging in the star-studded prequel series now available on Netflix, revisit the offbeat laugh-riot that started it all. Written by Michael Showalter from MTV's sketch comedy series The State, this '80s-set comedy cast such (then) relatively unknown actors as Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks and Christopher Meloni. In fact, when the cameras started rolling, the film's biggest stars included Janeane Garofalo (Reality Bites) and David Hyde Pierce (NBC's Frasier). The end result of this talented bunch banding together starts out parodying camp comedies such as 1979's Meatballs and 1993's Indian Summer, while skewering teen sex dramas such as 1982's The Last American Virgin before going off in an absurd and downright hilariously bonkers direction all of its own. In this R-rated comedy set on the last day of camp in the hot summer of 1981, a group of counselors (Garofalo, et al) try to complete their unfinished business before the day ends. Off-putting at first because you don't expect it, the movie's sense of humor proves to be a slow reveal. The craziness kicks in more and more as the story progresses. Indeed, when this comedy begins, Wet Hot American Summer feels little more than a harmless send-up. Once the training wheels come off, however, it's a runaway train of left field sight gags and bizarre character arcs that take the audience in an uproariously daffy wild ride. Give yourself over to it and you'll be laughing at some of the jokes a week later - that's a promise. Thankfully, the flick slowly amassed such a groundswell of fan adulation through home video and downloads that it became a cult classic. Now is the time to belly laugh and see why. Bottom line: American Standard
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 11, 2015
    "Wet Hot American Summer" follows a group of camp friends as they live life to the fullest on their last day of camp. That is literally the only plot to this film, notwithstanding a few character arcs along the way. It really just boils down to the comedy and whether or not you buy into it. For as dumb as this film is, I had a blast watching it. Almost all of the jokes worked for me, even the ones that made no sense, because I felt like that was their plan all along. This cult classic has been really making the rounds ever since it's initial release, and I must say, I completely see why. This film is certainly not for everyone, especially those who watch comedies for something profoundly clever in the writing. This film is exactly what it is. The cast was hired all just before the peak of their career, so it's nice to see them interacting with each other before they became rich and famous. In the end, "Wet Hot American Summer" is the type of film to just sit back, relax and enjoy with friends. I had a blast, and even though the movie really isn't all that great overall, I have no regrets recommending it.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2015
    Stupid, silly, ridiculous, and a lotta good fun. I watched it on a Saturday morning lounging on the couch, which feels like the right way to view something like this. It's endlessly ridiculous but I enjoy David Wain's constant pokes at conventions within movies (I was also quite a fan of They Came Together). The cast and soundtrack here are juggernauts, securing a nostalgic veneer to keep everything likeable, even if a lot of the goofiness falls flat. Paul Rudd cleaning up the cafeteria floor is gold, as is the group trip to town montage.
    Neum D Super Reviewer

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