Over the past week, I’ve been reading a lot of “How I Came To Camp Firewood” stories, as everyone I know on the internet (and a good chunk of the people I know in real life) worked their way through the 8 episodes of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. And this is mine.
Wet Hot American Summer is a weird movie. But as a kid who grew up on Mel Brooks it always made perfect sense to me. (Dealing with the crashing of a space station while a perfectly choreographed version of “Day By Day” goes on is downright low concept compared to say, anything that happens in Silent Movie.)
I found it, like many others, due to the reputation of one of it’s really, really accomplished cast members. And while learning that Paul Rudd, Amy Poehller and Michael Ian Black were all in it made 18 year old me all the more hungry for it. But I came to the party for Marguerite Moreau and I will not apologize for that. Not ever.
See, the summer after my senior year of high school, I dealt with the anxiety of the coming life changes by deciding to watch Kevin Smith’s entire catalog and by watching as many movies starring the cast of The Mighty Ducks as I could get my hands on.
(Mostly this meant watching Newsies and Heaveyweights over and over again…)
And that when I found Wet Hot American Summer and was overwhelmed by it’s silly greatness. It helped that I recognized just about everyone in the movie, and in the next ten years, they’ve all become pretty much ubiquitous on the comedy scene, which I love just as much, if not more, than I did back when I was 18.
Which is why I was really excited and also nervous last week for First Day of Camp, which promised, at the very least to bring together a group of people still at the top of their comedic powers, and like, half the cast of Mad Men.
The 8 episodes were stellar, and not surprising, my favorite parts revolved around Elizabeth Banks. But it was nice to see that Coop doesn’t fall in love with Katie because of Katie, it’s because Coop is that guy who talks to a girl twice and decides she’s his soulmate. McKinley and Ben fell in love because of a musical number. The talking can of vegetable was not all in Gene’s head, but actually, their fallen camp director, Mitch, who drowned in Toxic Waste.
Obviously, there’s a lot going on here.
But mostly I’m digging the little details. The fact that they had to create a character who’s an even bigger ass hole than Andy for us to root for Andy and Katie to get together. The fact that Gail was involved with 3 men in a 24 hour period.
First Day of Camp is a worthy prequel and a very funny one.