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TV Series Review

Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is outrageously ludicrous. And you don't even have to watch it to reach that conclusion. For starters, the fact that it exists at all is about as scientifically implausible as the platypus.

Consider the movie on which it's based: Wet Hot American Summer was made in 2001 to spoof such sex-drenched 1980s comedies as Porky's and Meatballs.

It earned less than $300,000.

Well, sometimes great movies just don't find an audience, right? Maybe that one was a little-known gem that, for the few people who actually watched the thing, instantly became an all-time favorite.

Nope, try again. It has a miserable 32% "freshness" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

And did I mention yet that it was a sex comedy spoof?

Yes, you'd think that a bomb of a movie like this would have as much chance of triggering a lavish eight-episode season on media heavyweight Netflix as I do of my latest book (It's titled Burning Bush 2.0, and it's available now at a fine online bookseller near you!) being picked up by Pixar for a three-picture deal.

Cult Meets Camp

But, of course, you would not be accounting for the growing power of celebrity.

Turns out that practically everyone who acted in Wet Hot American Summer later became famous. Among them: Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Amy Poehler (Inside Out), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games). That's helped turn the film into a cult classic. And now they're all back, 14 years later, in a prequel of all things. That's right: some of these actors who were playing teens while in their 20s are now playing, yep, teens while in their 40s.

AWANA Camp Is Nothing Like This (Hopefully)

Age has not brought wisdom to the mix, unfortunately. Dialogue still drips with grotesque sexual allusions and dirty juvenile witticisms. Every fortysomething-meets-teenager camp counselor longs to hop into bed with someone—with only the sex mattering, not the gender. Even campers are fair game here.

The plot? Purely extraneous. I've already told you that the only reason this show exists is to pay homage to one of 2001's least-watched and most poorly reviewed movies. OK, there's one more reason: to ogle some of Hollywood's most self-effacing stars as they mock themselves in the silliest, often most revolting ways possible. This series riffs on a bad movie spoofing a degenerate genre by purposefully turning it into an outrageously terrible, insanely preposterous pileup that, paradoxically, critics love.

At the time of this writing, that 32% Rotten Tomatoes gave Wet Hot American Summer turns into a sparkling 91% freshness rating for First Day of Camp.

Star power can do that sort of thing for Rotten Tomatoes … but not really for Plugged In.


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Episode Reviews

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp - July 31, 2015, "Campers Arrive"



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Elizabeth Banks as Lindsay; Paul Rudd as Andy; Marguerite Moreau as Katie; Joe Lo Truglio as Neil; Zak Orth as JJ; Amy Poehler as Susie; Bradley Cooper as Ben; Michael Ian Black as McKinley; Michael Showalter as Coop; A.D. Miles as Gary; David Hyde Pierce as Henry Newman; Judah Friedlander as Ron von Kleinenstein; Kevin Sussman as Steve; Richard Schiff as Dean Fairchild






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On Video

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Paul Asay

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