A satire on 80’s teen comedies, Wet Hot American Summer was a critical and commercial failure, but went on to be a cult hit phenomenon while its stars went on to be film and TV legends (Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler and Elizabeth Banks, to name a few.) The film is low budget and you can tell that it is, but the film-makers use this factor to their advantage to create a film that is self aware about its hilariously charming stupidity.
The movie takes place on the last day of Camp Firewood summer camp in 1981 and although the movie takes place in one day, a lot goes down that could not possibly all happen on a normal day. While the camp director (Janeane Garofalo) and an astrophysicist (David Hyde Pierce) try to save the camp from a piece of NASA’s Skylab from falling on them, the camp councillors are dealing with trying to get laid before camp ends and putting on the greatest talent show of their lives. Every scene in this movie is so ridiculous and so funny in the best way possible.
All 8 episodes of the prequel, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp dropped last month and you can easily watch them all in one sitting. The entire series takes place on the first day of camp and acts as a prequel to the film. Almost every joke from the film is referenced and there’s even a moment in the series where Chris Pine sings the song from the training montage from the film during the most intense moment of the season finale.
The first day of camp is ten times better than the last. Each 30 minute episode is a comedic masterpiece on it’s own and with a bigger budget and additional cast members (Jason Schwartzman, Jon Haam, Michael Cera, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Lake Bell), it does so much that the film couldn’t. First Day of Camp re-enlists its all star cast from the movie now well into their 40’s playing 16 year old camp counsellors (although one is missing, a later episode reveals that Elizabeth Banks’ character is actually a 23 year old journalist who can pass for 16 so she goes to Camp Firewood to get the “real story,” whatever that may be) as well as an amazing cast of kid campers, actually playing their age.
The plot of First Day of Camp is even crazier than the movie’s whole NASA Spacelab thing. In the prequel, the camp’s head councillors, Greg and Beth played by Jason Schwartzman and Janeane Garofalo come across a pool of green slime that Greg, (after taking a spoon out of his pocket and swallowing 5 spoonful’s of it,) pronounces to be toxic waste. The toxic waste is going to seep into the water supply and kill all the campers if they don’t do something about it. After their boss drowns in the toxic waste and his soul re-emerges into a talking can of vegetables, it’s up to them to save the day.
The series also gives us a bit of background on the characters we know and love from the film. It gives us the origin story of Andy (Paul Rudd) and Katie (Marguerite Moreau)’s summer romance with the line, “remember when I farted on you and made you fall in love with me?” a line way more beautiful than anything Nicholas Sparks has ever written. Another highlight is seeing Ben (Bradley Cooper) and Mckinley (Michael Ian Black)’s love emerge by using “creativity” as a metaphor for being gay. It was one of the most genius scenes in the whole series.
Fans of the movie will no doubt love the Netflix series. It delivers a very rare form of comedy that just like the movie, never takes itself too seriously and remains outlandishly funny. I recommend watching the movie first and then binge watching the show, as you’ll appreciate the jokes way more than if you’d went in blind.
By Shaianne Hugh
Shaianne is an 18 year old student from New York, currently at university in London. She is a stand up comedian, but only in her dreams and her obsession with Twin Peaks will most likely be her downfall. Her infinite list of favorite films include The Virgin Suicides, Donnie Darko, Fight Club and everything Wes Anderson has ever made. Watch her tweet embarrassing declarations of love to members of One Direction here: @shaialabeouf