The Surprising Brilliance of “Wet Hot American Summer”

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Let me be the first to remind you that glitchgoals isn’t always judgmental and negative. I mean, check out our post on…uh, you know. That one that we did. The one that wasn’t super critical of anything? Hmm. I could have sworn we had at least one of those. Huh.

Oh well, no matter – the point is we CAN avoid it if we want to. And hey, guess who’s about to make good on that promise? Good ol’ Joe St. Germain, that’s who. Also, I really hope that was your guess, since who else would it have been?

Anyway: Why the positivity? Because I just watched Wet Hot American Summer again. It’s not an overly remarkable movie, but man, there is an insane collection of future talent in there that even took me by surprise. Seriously – hit that jump and learn what you’re missing.

So in case you aren’t familiar, Wet Hot American Summer is a comedy written and directed by Michael Showalter and David Wain, two of the absurdist minds behind The State and Stella. I personally love their work, especially because Stella had an awesome singular season on Comedy Central that I loved – and despite sharing a lot of the same tropes and jokes, this movie really shines on its own merits. Most notably: on the backs of its underrated comedic talent, especially at the time it was released.

Like who, you might be asking, since I’ve spent over 200 words belaboring my point already? Well I’m glad you FINALLY asked, you dick.


  • Janeane Garofalo: Even though she gets top billing on IMDb, she’s hardly the “main” character in this movie. In fact, most of this ensemble is given a small space to bring their character to life, yet they all manage to shine – Janeane Garofalo is no exception. She’s been around the comedy game for years, so people generally know what to expect from her, and she’s still subtly and notably awesome here.
  • David Hyde Pierce: Like Janeane Garofalo, most people are familiar with David Hyde Pierce and what he can bring to the table (maybe you’ve seen some of his underrated indie works like Frasier, or the Broadway version of The Producers? Yeah – fucking exactly). Also like Janeane Garofalo, his character is perfectly understated and still totally unique within the movie’s context. When your two biggest names blend right in with the rest of the cast, you know you’ve got a good thing going.
  • Paul Rudd: It probably doesn’t seem that rare to see Paul Rudd in a movie these days – you might recognize him from basically fucking everything at this point – but in 2001 he was a relative unknown. And even though he’s an awesome lead actor these days, it’s hardly like he’s a central character here – the foresight is what’s really key. Similarly…
  • Amy Poehler: Again, not a major character in the movie – sensing a theme here? – but she’s been a pretty prominent name in the comedy world for a while (and starring on Parks and Recreation isn’t hurting any), so it’s pretty wild to see her cast in this movie too. Funnily enough, her character acts alongside…
  • Bradley Cooper: Remember how the first time you saw The Hangover you were like “man, that guy is pretty good at this” – and then remember how he got cast in a handful of serious and dramatic films afterward, like Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond the Pines? Now: Would you believe that his first ever movie role was Michael Ian Black’s gay lover in this movie? Well, believe it, bitch – that’s the truth.
  • Elizabeth Banks: Similar to Bradley Cooper, this was one of the first film appearances for Elizabeth Banks. All she’s done since then is appear in a handful of blockbuster comedies and get a semi-regular role on 30 Rock – no big deal, really.
  • H. Jon Benjamin: He’s probably the smallest name on this list, but it’s not like he’s lacking work: He’s the undeniably awesome voice of Sterling Archer on Archer, and he’s lent his voice to several other efforts since then (like this series of Coke Zero ads that aired during March Madness).

Now, I know this is hardly an Ocean’s 11 level of talent, but considering the popularity and prominence of Wet Hot American Summer – a 6.5/10 on IMDb and a mere 31% on Rotten Tomatoes – it’s pretty crazy that it had a cast that would go on to be THAT notable within the next decade or so.

What’s really great is that Michael Showalter and Marguerite Moreau are ostensibly the main characters in the film, and the public has NEVER heard of them. Besides, this movie features plenty of lower-level celebrities that have made some name for themselves (Michael Ian Black, Judah Friedlander, Molly Shannon and Ken Marino, to name a few) – despite the terrible critical reviews, it’s a pretty crazy assembly of talent.


So there you are, folks – I was impressed enough with this to make it the first positive post in the history of glitchgoals. Don’t go worrying, though…odds are I’ll be back with something even more critical than ever next time. You retarded douchebags. (Ahhh, that felt good.)


The Surprising Brilliance of “Wet Hot American Summer”

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