Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (4 stars)

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd and co return in this Netflix series based on the 2001 film

Ever wondered how Chef Gene (Christopher Meloni gamely taking off 80s action heroes) befriended a talking can of mixed vegetables? Or how Professor Henry Newman (David Hyde Pierce) came to live by Camp Firewood? Well, all your questions will be answered in David Wain and Michael Showalter’s hilarious eight episode original Netflix show which continues in the same wacky vein of coming-of-age parody as the original film from 2001.

If you haven’t seen the film, you should prioritise that beforehand as there are in-jokes galore. As well as the returning cast of Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler and more there are quite a few new additions and some mighty fine cameo appearances.

Set on a summer camp for kids in 1981, we meet the supervisors 11 hours before the campers arrive, with Rudd’s badass Andy making a memorable entrance on his motorcycle. Every scene Rudd appears in is joyously funny as he once again nails the comic value in being a complete bastard. All the characters’ backstories are revealed including how romance blossomed between Ben (Cooper) and McKinley (Michael Ian Black) as they performed a little ditty called ‘Zoot Suit.’

The whole series takes on the form of a conspiracy theory film, with Janeane Garofalo turning all Erin Brockovich and John Hamm appearing as a secret agent. In addition to that we get to see behind the scenes at the end of camp musical with the audition process turning into silly satire of talent shows. Elizabeth Banks also gets to have lots of fun as an undercover reporter from New York who gets an exclusive scoop on a long lost rock star. Showalter returns as Coop and aside from his desperate attempts to get a girlfriend he takes on the role of carer to a bullied boy, which allows for a hilarious Mrs Doubtfire moment as he adopts the guise of Patty Pancakes.

First Day of Camp is as surreal, bonkers and manic as the original. It relishes in and cannily plays with the nostalgia of 80s films when Karate, break-dancing, friendship bracelets and hacking into the mainframe were all the rage.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp premieres on Netflix, Fri 31 Jul.

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