In 2001 director David Wain teamed up with Michael Showalter to bring to life the eighties teen spoof comedy “Wet Hot American Summer”. Filled with an amazing ensemble cast of friends and relative unknowns, the film was loved by some creating a cult following while being hated by others. Now in 2015 on Netflix an eight episode prequel series, ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’ is available for viewing. All eight episodes focus literally on the entire first day of camp Firewood, while the original movie focused on the last day.
Both Wain and Showalter return as creators bringing along for the ride most of the original cast and a heap of famous actors including Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Cera, John Hamm, Jason Schwartzman, and many more. The short series is chocked full of stereotypical plotlines that were frequent in the eighties and the jokes fly nonstop. From teens trying to loose thier virginity, to a reporter posing as a teen counciler to get a story, to a government conspiracy that will lead to murder, all the stories from the eighties are here performed in over the top insane comedy. Even more comical and absurd is viewing these actors in their thirties and forties dressed and acting like sixteen year olds. Each and every actor commits to their part, no matter how ridiculous their storyline is. Watching many of these well known actors interact with one another in roles and scenes you wouln’t normally see is satisfying and memorable. Seeing some more serious actors like John M. Slattery, Jr., known for his role in the hit television series “Mad Men” in a comedic role is both surprising and hilarious. Watching Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler return to thier roles as broadway dreaming councilers trying to put together a stunning opening day show is humerous, while watching Paul Rudd play the rebel and trying to impress the hottest girl in camp is may also be hilarious, it isn’t anything new and feels familure. Janeane Garofalo returns as the head counciler but in the mixed up plot concerning her and Jason Schwartzman and a government cover up, she sometimes looks out of place if not bored and appears as if she is only returning to the film out of debt. The writing is smart enough for viewers to identify similar storylines in similar eighties films and Wain’s and Showalter’s writing does a very good job of attaching this prequel series to the original film.
David Wain’s directing does a remarkable job of capturing looks and attitudes of the eighties, but much like the original film, this series will be torn among the viewers. The insanity of the storylines sometimes is gut wrenching hilarious, while other jokes are either over the top ridiculous and try to hard most often failing. If you enjoyed the original film and love over the top spoof movies, ‘Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day” is a must see for you. For those that didn’t enjoy the film, or get aggravated by the spoof films, you won’t make it past the first episode.