The 2001 cult comedy “Wet Hot American Summer” features some of the biggest names in Hollywood. But when the movie was made, they were mostly unknowns traipsing around in cutoffs and tube socks, 10 years too old to be playing teens at camp. This July, when they reunite for the prequel, “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” they’ll be nearly 15 years older. Still, the entire cast—which includes Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks—unanimously opted in for the eight-episode Netflix series.
“That was a testament to the special place that the project seems to hold in all of our hearts,” says director and co-writer David Wain, who collaborated on the script with Michael Showalter. “First Day of Camp” also features some impressive talent that wasn’t in the original: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, and Kristen Wiig, and Chris Pine. ““We wanted better actors, but they weren’t available so we just settled for those guys,” Wain deadpans, “so we just got crappy actors.”
“Wet Hot American Summer” was based on Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter’s own experiences at summer camp; the joke that the cast was significantly older than their roles is played out for comedic absurdity, but was also partially based on Wain’s childhood perceptions of older campers.
For Wain, it’s as if the intervening years since the original never happened at all. “If anything, doing this made me feel younger,” he says. The 15 years in between “was like a wrinkle in time,” he says.
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