TV Review: “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” – Really Great

Written by Michelle Young August 09, 2015

wet hot american summer

Despite the fact that the original “Wet Hot American Summer” was a commercial and critical bomb, it found a warm spot in the hearts of its devoted cult followers who are sure to be pleased with Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”. It’s a truly refreshing, funny, and successful prequel series which was released on July 31.

As the title obviously states, “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”, focuses on the first day at Camp Firewood, unlike the original movie, which centered on the antics of the last day. This switch up was really fun, as we got to see just how the characters from the movie came to be, as well as some interesting add ins and back-stories. My favourite back-story had to be Lindsay’s (Elizabeth Banks), an undercover news reporter from New York; it cleverly plays on how the actress clearly didn’t (and still doesn’t) pass as a sixteen year old. Along with Lindsay, some other standouts were how Susie (Amy Pohler) became a bitter theater leader, how The Can of Mixed Vegetables came to talk, and how Andy and Katie began their “whirlwind” romance.

“1981 is gonna be the best summer ever.”

What really impressed me about the series was how it avoided relying too much on its own nostalgia which, when it comes to expanding on a cult favourite, can be difficult. The addition of the back-stories really achieve this, as they utilize the format of the original “Wet Hot American Summer” comedic tone and style, as well as expanding on it. This isn’t to say that the nostalgic callbacks weren’t fun or needed, but eight episodes of “hey remember that, wasn’t it funny the last time we did it” would’ve gotten a bit exhaustive. My one gripe is with the story about the young kid, Kevin, not fitting in. While it certainly fits with the overall story, it just fell a little flat as the rest of the star-studded cast out-shined the underwhelming child actors.

wet hot american summer

The timeline of the story (one single day) also fit so seamlessly with the Netflix style of pacing that it was like they were meant to be. The “slow burn” idea really works in favour of the show’s scope, as we can get more time devoted to some of the characters that didn’t get as much in the original movie, while still spending time with the others. Instead of just the hour and a bit from the original movie, there are now four, which are filled with as many jokes and bits to get laughs.

“It was a hard day.”

The cast is also a feature of the original movie that made it such a nostalgic gem in the first place, as most of the relatively unknown actors (at the time) have now become huge stars, like Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Pohler, and Judah Friedlander. Thankfully, pretty much everyone has returned, whether in just a small recurring bit or for the long haul. They also added in a bunch of new character played by some great actors, like Josh Charles, Kristen Wiig, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Cera, and Jon Hamm.

wet hot american summer

After finding its rebirth on Netflix, “Wet Hit American Summer: The First Day of Camp”, proves that even after fifteen years its insane brand of zany absurd humour can still bring the laughs. The eight part series takes everything that people clung onto from the movie and dials it up, giving the audience what they want while still remaining unapologetic and true to what made it so great in the first place.

My Rating: 8/10

wet hot american summer



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