WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER

directed by David Wain with Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce opens Aug. 31 at Broadway Market

JERRY ZUCKER, part of

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Who knew there was a summer-camp movie genre to parody?

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER

directed by David Wain with Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce opens Aug. 31 at Broadway Market

JERRY ZUCKER, part of the team behind the Airplane and Naked Gun franchises, recently lamented that making something like Airplane today is impossible because the minute you depict a grown man asking a youth if he likes gladiator movies, politically correct soccer moms start organizing studio boycotts. But apparently nobody bothered to tell that to co-writers Michael Showalter and David Wain (formerly of MTV sketch-comedy fave The State). Their spoof of '80s sex-at-summer-camp flicks celebrates such depravities as a 34-year-old divorc饠(SNL's Molly Shannon) being seduced by a prepubescent charge, gay marriage, and, um . . . what do you call the love between a man and his refrigerator, anyway?

It's 1981, the last day of the season at Camp Firewood, and everyone's trying to get laid. Acquitting herself remarkably well (given her big-screen track record), camp director Janeane Garofalo pines after astrophysics prof David Hyde Pierce, while counselor Showalter lusts for a girl who only has thighs for lifeguard Paul Rudd. There are some peripheral twists—the big talent show, the imminent crash of Skylab—but this isn't a plot-driven genre, folks. (You think the writers of Meatballs were trying to make Billy Wilder sweat?)

Summer is all about the gags, and although many of them—like the interminable nod to Friday the 13th—go on too long, and some are just plain obvious (the requisite nerds playing Dungeons & Dragons), there are still more laughs in these 97 minutes than in any of the SNL-spawned embarrassments. That's mainly because Showalter and Wain aren't afraid to detour abruptly into the absurd, as when a trip into town devolves into a scenario worthy of Hieronymus Bosch. Summer may mark the last time audiences walk into a summer-camp movie and come out cheering for the oversexed teens, not the ax-wielding psycho.

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