As I was talking to a friend last night about the Netflix miniseries “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp,” I found myself laughing all over again at my favorite lines or performances. Like the film back in 2001, there are some big highs and some total bomb-outs, but there is so much happening that you're bound to laugh at something.
One of the unexpected benefits of the release of the new “Wet Hot American Summer” is the release of Amy Rice's “Hurricane Of Fun,” a documentary built entirely from footage shot during the filming of the original film in the summer of 2000. For fans of that film, it's going to feel like a brand new sequel since it is so fast and funny and filled with the cast playing all sorts of games, and it follows such a clean narrative arc that it ends up feeling like a companion film, not a mere behind-the-scenes peek.
If you are concerned that perhaps you do not already adore Amy Poehler completely, watch this film because it will cure you of that concern completely. She is such a great performer, and watching her here, it's clear that she's also a great audience, which is invaluable on a comedy set. There's a great set-up that Hill cuts back to throughout the film, with Paul Rudd, Janeane Garafolo, and Chris Meloni in a bar, shooting the shit, busting each other mercilessly, and it is such a great true portrait of how people spend time on sets. That's what this film provides that I don't think every behind the scenes film can boast. This is a very real and unfiltered glimpse of the making of something that, whether you are a fan or not, stands as a focal point for a huge swath of film comedy right now.
What's impressive is how completely they documented things considering they were making a film for very little money and they had no idea what would happen with it. When they're interviewing Bradley Cooper about his role and he's talking about how he just graduated drama school two days before starting work on the film, it's charming because of just how green he is, and it's amazing because he has no idea what the next fifteen years have in store for him.
The movie looks like it was a punishing shoot, and the weather problems would have driven some directors completely mad. When you look at the finished film, it's even more impressive once you see just how horrible and rainy and non-stop awful the conditions were while they were shooting. For anyone who's ever been to camp or made a movie, this documentary is going to feel oddly familiar, and it's interesting how similar those two experiences are. I love that they were playing “The name of the game is SNAPS” on the set behind the scenes, driving the people who hadn't figured the game out completely insane. I remember the summer I spent at a Scount camp called Skymont trying to figure the game out, and the moment where it clicked into place, I felt like a genius, and then simultaneously felt like a giant dunce for not figuring it out quicker. You see the moment in the film where Poehler cracks the rules, and she's like Moonwatcher in “2001,” so very excited by this jump in knowledge. It's as entertaining as Garafolo's completely befuddlement.
There are things I really liked about the “Wet Hot” revival (I am in awe of Paul Rudd's line, “I'll fart my way into that snatch,” for example), but if I'm being honest, I think my favorite “Wet Hot” related thing at all is “Hurricane Of Fun.” In its own totally honest way, it captures the reality of camp and filmmaking all at once, and with a cast that just happens to be filled wall-to-wall with some of the funniest people in movies.
“Hurricane Of Fun” is available now on Netflix.