The Ten Funniest David Wain Projects

The ten funniest David Wain projects

You may not recognize David Wain’s name.  However, you most definitely recognize his films.  He made his mark by being a successful segment director and actor on The State in the early 90s.  It was here that he met his comedy comrades Michael Ian Black, Joe LoTruglio, Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney, Michael Showalter, and Ken Marino.  Then, in 2001, David Wain hit the big time with Wet Hot American Summer.  Immediately, the comedy world took notice.  Since then, he has consistently provided us with great comedy films, television series, and even characters in projects he isn’t directing.  His films have catapulted the careers of such stars like Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, and Amy Poehler.  What’s more, these stars all seem to keep coming back to work for him.  He has his own comedy troupe just as Christopher Guest does. 

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

This throwback to films like Meatballs and Porky’s, Wet Hot American Summer put David Wain on the map.  The incredible cast is hilarious.  Though, most noticeably, the film was an odd genre combination of teen sex comedy and spoof.  This ensemble comedy is just full of episodic situations involving the different counselors. There is the sweet comedy of the boy/girl crush.  Then there is the zany comedy of a guy scorching the Earth for a chance to get laid. Then there are some absurd spoof moments that put a huge unique stamp on the film.  Also, who knew that Christopher Meloni could be so hilarious?  This film was made on a shoestring budget, and it shows.  That is part of its charm, though.  It does not need to be flashy to be funny.

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The Ten (2007)

Most of David Wain’s projects have some sort of a gimmick.  The gimmick with The Ten is Paul Rudd, essentially playing Paul Rudd, introducing 10 comedy shorts based on the monolithic ten commandments behind him.  Of course, some vignettes are far funnier than others, but as a whole, this anthology is a hoot. The highlights are the Honor Thy Mother and Father and Honor the Sabbath sections.  However, the Liev Schreiber/Joe Lo Truglio Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Goods is alone worth the price of admission.  

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Albert Downsy, Jr. in Comedy Central’s Another Period

One of the times David Wain is hysterical as an actor.  He portrays Albert in the hysterical Comedy Central series Another Period.  The brilliance of the series involves the self-absorption and idiocy of the fantastically rich Bellacourt family.  There are the Upstairs/Downstairs-style hijinks with the servants, confusing incest situations among the Bellacourt siblings, and then there is the Albert/Victor situation. Albert is married to Beatrice Bellacourt and Brian Huskey’s Victor is married to Lillian Bellacourt.  However, the stupidly naive Bellacourts have no idea they are a homosexual couple. The couple still fears they are in danger of being found.  So, their horrible attempts to conceal their love really hit the comedy mark.  Also, the way they manipulate their wives into letting them stay in the estate together is so ridiculously inspired.

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The Second Sound Barrier (2016)

In 2016, David Wain once again paired up with Michael Showalter to create an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink trailer for a movie that doesn’t exist.  The Second Sound Barrier was some strange way to market designer Richard Graham’s brand. There is no obvious way to tell if it accomplishes that goal, but the fake trailer is absolutely fantastic.  It is a ridiculous 70s action spoof about three fast drivers trying to break the Second Sound Barrier in order to save Juliette Lewis somehow.  This trailer belongs among those brilliant trailers in the middle of Grindhouse.  Just watch it and see for yourself.  

Not available on Amazon, duh.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp – Netflix

David Wain brought back the cast that made him famous and made what might be the most absurdly hysterical idea he has ever had.  This Netflix series takes place, as the title suggests, on the first day of camp at Camp Firewood. Wet Hot American Summer took place on the last day, so this series fills in the blanks of all the counselors’ relationships.  The best part of this series is that Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and everyone else are playing their 18-year old characters again, and they are all WAY too old.  Seeing Showalter play Coop again is so gloriously ridiculous.  He didn’t age nearly as well as Paul Rudd did.  Also, Bradley Cooper was a big part of the original movie. His star has risen to atmospheric heights since then and didn’t have the time to film a series.  David Wain figures out this problem brilliantly.

Watch now on Netflix.

Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later – Netflix

The huge success of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day at Camp on Netflix led to 10 Years Later.  It doesn’t QUITE work as well.  The actors aren’t young anymore so it can’t be the teen sex romp.  The meta-insanity of the cast all being 20 years too old for their characters of First Day at Camp is gone.  But, watching David Wain with his crew again is still a delight. Honestly, this is chock full of some of the funniest people in Hollywood.  Filming this cast just having dinner together would be a riot.  There are some very funny jokes throughout the 8 episodes.   Bradley Cooper’s Ben is now played by Adam Scott.   It is a HUGE difference that does not go unnoticed.  Also, Michael Ian Black’s famous quote about having plans at 11 in ten years time (said at the end of the original film) finally pays off.

Watch now on Netflix.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

David Wain directed this film for Netflix.  A Futile and Stupid Gesture is the story about Doug Kenney and the founding of The National Lampoon.  However, it is much more than that.  It is funny, it is dramatic, it is entirely meta, and apologetic.  Will Forte as Kenney shows he really has artistic depth inside his ridiculous persona.  Also, an unrecognizable Domhnall Gleeson plays Doug’s partner in crime, Henry Beard. The film takes us through the founding of the subversive magazine to the incredible success of Caddyshack and Animal House.  

The brilliance of this film is that it makes no excuses for their casting choices of historically huge stars.  Only Joel McHale’s Chevy Chase emulates the star in any way. The rest of the cast playing Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Belushi look and sound nothing like them.  David Wain brings attention to this, and to the fictionalization of parts of the story, seemingly with pride. Also, the use of Martin Mull’s meta-narrator is such a brave artistic choice.  If you know the story of Doug Kenney, his existence is odd. Again, the movie doesn’t care and it makes it all so much fun and exciting.

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Wainy Days (2007-2012)

In 2007, a site called My Damn Channel hired David Wain to do a bunch of small webisodes.  Wain essentially plays himself and he is filmed with a single handheld camera.  Over the course of the series, his friends and colleagues all show up for small snippets of relationship humor.   The shorts were so funny and so easy to digest, that Wainy Days wound up lasting 5 seasons and 39 webisodes.  Not only that, but Wain received a Webby in 2008 for his work on the show.  However, the best thing to come out of this neat little pet project about relationship tropes is the next film.

Purchase now on Amazon for $13.40.

They Came Together (2014)

Not since 2000’s Scary Movie has a spoof movie been done so perfectly well.  Again teaming up with his go-to guy, David Wain enlists Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler to spoof every romantic comedy trope under the sun.  They Came Together is one of the funniest and most wonderfully aware comedies in many years.  Wain shows that he has the comedy chops at exceeding the Wayans Brothers and even rivals the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker golden age of spoofing.  The film is essentially You’ve Got Mail, with Paul Rudd being the executive at the large candy corporation and Amy Poehler is the owner of the neighborhood candy shop. Poehler is so bubbly that she gives away all her candy for free.  David Wain skewers every cliche imaginable.  He pokes fun at every relationship trope you can think of.   Also, in a breath of fresh air, the comedy is timeless. This isn’t the Friedberg/Seltzer pop-culture spoofs. This is clever, subversive, and totally aware of what it is.

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Role Models (2008)

This is one David Wain project that doesn’t have a gimmick.  Role Models is just a hilarious R-Rated comedy. Paul Rudd (again!) plays Danny, a man stuck in an incredible rut.  His girlfriend dumped him and he really hates his job hocking energy drinks. Seann William Scott is his work partner Wheeler, the polar opposite of Danny.  On a particularly rough day that involves some vehicular assault, Danny and Wheeler are sentenced to work for Sturdy Wings. They become big brothers, and it is just fantastic.  Danny has his hands full with Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Augie Farks.  Augie is an obsessive LARPer and Danny couldn’t be less interested. Wheeler has his hands full with Bobb’e J. Thompson’s Ronnie.  Ronnie is an obnoxious, foul-mouthed kid who is simply out to cause as much mayhem as possible. In addition to the hilarious laughs, Role Models actually has a sweetness and maturity to it that can’t be found in most of David Wain’s other films.

Purchase now on Amazon for $12.99.

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