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The Best News You’ll Hear All Week: Is There a Wet Hot American Summer Prequel on the Way?

June 24, 2011

If you’re a fan of 2001’s cult indie comedy Wet Hot American Summer, you’ve no doubt recommended it to friends, who in turn recommended it to friends who recommended it to other friends. The result has been a slow building of a Wet Hot American Summer fan base that’s literally been broiling for nearly ten years and still, one might argue, hasn’t reached its apex yet.

A throwback to the teen comedies of the  late-seventies/early eighties and made for a reported $300,000, Wet Hot American Summer brought together an obscure but stellar cast which would prove over the next several years to be one of the greatest comedy ensembles in the last twenty years: David Wain, Michael Showalter, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio and Michael Ian Black of The State, Amy Poehler (pre-SNL), David Hyde Pierce (Frasier’s Niles Crane), Janeane Garofalo, Molly Shannon, Zak Orth, Christopher Meloni (Law & Order), Elizabeth Banks (30 Rock, The Next Three Days), Paul Rudd (Knocked Up, I Love You Man), A.D. Miles (current head writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) and a then almost wholly-unknown Bradley Cooper. It was an absurdly beautiful project that came together perfectly — weird enough to keep itself from mainstream success and clever enough to attract a faithful flock which really, truly loved it. Plus, a feature on the DVD allows one to watch the movie with “extra farts,” which delivers exactly what it promises and which, I argue, cannot be beaten.

So basically, what I’m saying is that if you have already seen Wet Hot American Summer, I don’t need to tell you how great it is, and if you haven’t seen it, you should see it immediately (with extra farts). For those of you who have seen it, however, the following news is going to really tickle you: David Wain and Michael Showalter have admitted to Entertainment Weekly that they’re working on a prequel film, and virtually everyone is back on board again. Rudd, Banks, Hyde Pierce, Meloni and Garofalo have all expressed interest, and of course the State guys would be back, alongside one would assume the Upright Citizens Brigade contingent (Miles, Poehler). It all has the potential to be something really special.

Here’s the kicker, though. Wain, who I’m positively certain does not read this site, should really consider staying true to the original source material with the original cast. It’s going to be tempting, with the alt-comedy family growing larger these days and a cult following which undoubtedly will find other comics wanting in on the sequel, to create a comedy all-star extravaganza. That’s going to be an attractive idea. But this, I posit, would make a Wet Hot prequel into another animal entirely. One, it’ll certainly attract larger distributors or studios, who will want a hand in tempering the balls-to-the-wall sublimity of Wain’s writing — just imagine how much less strange and hilarious the film’s climax, which featured a Talent Show/Catskills Comedy Sketch/Satellite Disaster, would have been if Sony pictures had ordered reshoots to make it accessible for a midwestern 30-45 year old female demographic.  Two, it would dilute the pool of clicking, spot-on brilliant comics and actors who so cohesively held the first film together. I say keep it true to the roots and just go crazy.

But I’m not David Wain or Michael Showalter, just a Wet Hot American Summer purist, and regardless of what happens, count me in. To me, Wet Hot is the one of the most tragically underseen comedies in my lifetime, and it deserves its audience. It’s nice to know that there’s enough clamor, and enough willingness among the original cast, to reproduce that lightning in a bottle for another film. That’s at least a step in the right direction, and there’s no way I’m against that. Consider me completely on board. I trust David Wain implicitly, and he certainly didn’t sell out with inspired, bigger budget films like The Ten or Role Models, so I’ve got his back. What say you guys? Down for a wet, hot American revisit?

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