My wife and I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, and they started talking up the prequel to Wet Hot American Summer some time ago. As avid Netflix viewers, we figured, “Why not?” Of course, because the show would be the first day of camp, we realized we should probably watch the original movie from 2001 that focused upon the last day of camp.
We just finished the Netflix series last night, and it is hilarious, unpredictable, and original – almost the opposite of the 2001 movie in every way. Don’t get me wrong, 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer had it’s moments, but it felt more like a series of poorly planned Saturday Night Live skits than a cohesive comedy film. Of course, extremely talented people participated in the film from so many years ago, and several of them are now legitimate stars. The Netflix series spotlights not only the raw talent they utilized in the past, but it also celebrates a mastery they’ve achieved. I don’t know if Elizabeth Banks, Janeane Gorafalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Chistopher Meloni, or Molly Shannon have never been better!
Yes, the series is ridiculous and over the top, but it feels so much more purposeful and crafted now. Jokes were planted in the first episode that finally came to fruition in the last. Unlike the original movie, the series always made me feel like it was actually headed somewhere.
Do you need to watch the original movie to enjoy the series? Yes, frankly, you do. There is so much from the movie that the series hinges upon. They took silly throw-away moments from the film and centered the series’ plot around them. It really is not only funny, but also so very impressive. The best part is that this is only the first day of camp. They have the potential to keep coming back for the second, the third, and so on. If they can manage to keep the core group intact while bringing in talent like John Hamm, Lake Bell, Jordan Peele, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig, John Slattery, Chris Pine, and Michael Cera, you can certainly count us in.