The year is 1981, it’s the beginning of summer, and the campers of Camp Firewood descend on the site for the first day of camp.
Fourteen years after the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer landed, we have been graced with a prequel just as outrageous as the film itself. Clocking in with only eight episodes, First Day of Camp follows the events of the first day of summer camp at ‘Camp Firewood’. While the events of the film take place on the ‘last day of camp’ the same year, this new series is set about eight weeks prior to the cult classic film. The actors such as Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper who are all now fourteen years older, reprise their roles from the film. The visibly aged actors only adds to the comedy, as First Day of Camp follows in the parodical footsteps of it’s feature length predecessor.
Upon watching the trailer, I had a strong feeling that I was going to enjoy this show, especially considering that some of my favourite actors feature in it. Being only eight episodes long, First Day of Camp was over in around four hours, which just made this series feel like a long winded prequel film, however, watching it over a few days gave it more of the television feel I was looking for. On that note, I feel that this is the first Netflix Original Series that I have seen that doesn’t work best by marathoning episodes, and considering that this is a key part of Netflix’s unique selling point, maybe in this way, the show is unsuccessful.However, the show succeeds by giving fans just what they should expect from a television series based off of a film like Wet Hot American Summer. The ultimate parody of the teen summer camp movie continues in just the way the film did, throwing in poorly timed and inappropriately placed glass smashing sounds whenever anything is thrown to the ground and even making it painfully obvious that far too many events are happening in this one day – “I’ll see you in court later tonight”.
If you are a fan of the original film, then this series is definitely for you. The whole series seems hand-crafted to please an audience that wanted to see these characters a second time around, which is in no means a bad thing as there is enough content for new fans to follow and enjoy. However, having a prior knowledge of the film will definitely benefit a few of the jokes. The series also acts as a kind of origin story for some of the characters, such as Gene with his military history which, once again is a treat for any fan of the film.
All of the acting is quite ridiculous, but fully enjoyable to watch. Especially with all the new guest stars that feature, such as Jon Hamm, Michael Cera and Weird Al Yankovic. Michael Showalter has gained a significant amount of weight since the film’s release, and looks considerably different in the series but this just adds to the absurdity of the show itself. Whereas some of the other actors (here’s looking at you, Paul Rudd) look pretty much exactly the same and haven’t aged in the slightest. As brilliantly put by Elizabeth Banks’ character, “I know I’m 24 years old, but I could pass for a teenager”, this show has no worries about how old their actors are looking.
All in all, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp was good fun to watch. The series holds a thoroughly enjoyable plot all the way through and its stellar cast will keep you entertained right up until the First Day of Camp is over. The level of parody and contempt this series holds for the genre it’s mocking doesn’t falter for a second, giving viewers some real laugh out loud moments, coupled with some fun and enjoyable content the rest of the time too. If you have not seen the film, the show is a standalone, however, to understand some jokes and references watching the film may prove beneficial.
What did you think of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp?
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