Isn't Janeane Garafolo cute and adorable? If you answered, "No," well, skip this review. But you can probably still see Wet Hot American Summer.
WHAS is both a teen summer camp comedy and a parody of one. It is the last day of summer camp 1981. We get to see the joys and terrors of the kids and counselors as, together, they learn and grow, or like, not. If I can give away one gag, the camp softball team, a group of ragtag misfits, is getting ready for the big game against Camp Anonymously Evil's team, the Rivals. Then they talk it over, and decide that sounds pretty cliched, so they just skip it.
So, some scenes are more or less realistic comedy, some are off the wall surreal. The shifts in tone could be jarring, but think of, for ex, Caddyshack. That's both a comedy of manners and a gonzo parody of same, scene by scene.
The writing is great, based on director David Wain (The State) and Michael Showalter's experiences. It was filmed at a real summer camp (Camp Towanda, where Hank Azaria went!). It features some young actors like Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce, Amy Poehler, and probably others I would recognize if I watched more sketch comedy.
All is tenderly watched over by sweet, nerdy, virginal earth mother Janeane Garafolo. Although she handles the camp with ease, she gets all nervous over the shy geeky astrophysicist next door (Pierce). Their romance, his blossoming and nurturing of the camp's outcasts (the "indoor kids") is one of my favorite parts of the movie.
But basically, Garafolo is my favorite part of the movie. Since she is in basically no other good movies (I kind of liked Truth about Cats and Dogs, but...), it's great to see her here.