REVIEW: Wet Hot American Summer – First Day of Camp (2015)

First Day of Camp

“Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” is available on Netflix and functions as a prequel to the 2001 comedy “Wet Hot American Summer”

Let me preface this by saying that I didn’t watch the original film when it was first released. Somehow I had never heard of the film until a few years ago. Before watching the film I considered it a potential hidden gem featuring some of my favorite actors. Then I watched it, and I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the film – but I never loved it. Somehow this prequel show made me a believer.

Just like the original film, this satire show takes place on a single day. In the 2001 film it was the final day of camp, and in the show it is the first. This pretty much works this time around, though there was one scene featuring only Amy Poehler and John Slattery that felt – not out of place – but out of time.

Speaking of John Slattery, this show somehow became somewhat of a reunion for more than just two Mad Men stars. Like the trailers showed, Jon Hamm also makes an appearance. Hamm’s character, as well as Michael Showalter’s second character, adds to the teen comedy-satire and makes it something else. But this ‘new element’ to the cult comedy does not slow it down, in fact it only aids the satire of the show.

Some might still feel that it is out of place. However, I actually think it makes some sense to go in this direction, as it adds to the best character of the film – who is also the best character of the show – Christopher Meloni’s Gene. Gene isn’t himself for a couple of episodes, but once he is back to his usual self the show awakes and shines.

I honestly do think that this show is better than the original film. I had feared that perhaps these 8 episodes (4 hours) would become tedious over time perhaps due to a lack of story or perhaps due to a new focus on guest stars. I severely underestimated these writers and these actors. The story is never stretched out too thin, the actors all work, and the guest stars only add to the enjoyment.

Ultimately, this is a revival of a comedy, and as a Netflix show it has to be compared to the only other true comedy revival they have done. While Arrested Development failed in recapturing the spark across all episodes and characters, this show somehow succeeds.

Thus I implore Netflix to look into a sequel mini-series to the original film, taking place ten years after the events at Camp Firewood. I cannot be the only one hoping for a Wet Hot American Summer: Camp Reunion show, right? Still, if this is indeed the end for the cult hit, then David Wain and Michael Showalter can rest assured that this show only strengthens the original film.

B+

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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