By: Addison Wylie
Before Paul Rudd was Ant-Man, before Elizabeth Banks was one of comedy’s leading ladies, and before Bradley Cooper became an Oscar nominated actor/producer, all three actors starred in an indescribable indie comedy called Wet Hot American Summer. The movie also served as a launching pad for Parks and Rec’s Amy Poehler, Stella’s Michael Ian Black, Bad Milo’s Ken Marino, and Brooklyn Nine Nine’s Joe Lo Truglio – all of whom had never worked on a movie before. Wet Hot American Summer was also David Wain’s first foray into directing feature films before venturing into television (Stella) and fleshing out his filmography (Role Models, The Ten, and Wanderlust).
Wet Hot America Summer had everyone stunned. After it tickled funny bones at the Sundance Film Festival, most critics didn’t know how to handle it – some writers interpreted the alternative humour and absurdist behaviour as satire towards screwball camp comedies. Though the critical reception wasn’t quite warm, it found murmuring appreciation during its small theatrical run. It wasn’t until the film hit home video that movie goers truly understood Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter’s comedic zest, which gained the film a cult following and a prequel series for Netflix.
Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot is an extended behind-the-scenes feature for those who have held the original comedy close to their hearts. While it’s shy of officially being feature length, Amy Rice’s documentary packs a great deal of intimacy and funny insider sneak peeks that will surely have the film’s hardcore fans exploding with glee. As a hardcore myself, I found my face hurting from smiling so much. Yours will too after hearing Rudd, Jeneane Garofalo, and Christopher Meloni sarcastically interview each other.
Rice’s film scrubs through 25 hours of camcorder footage from the movie’s rainy shoot. A title card during the opening credits informs the viewer that the video in Hurricane of Fun hasn’t been shown to the public, but that’s not entirely true. A.D. Miles’ musical freestyling and Garofalo’s advice to younger actors was all too priceless to forget from watching Wet Hot American Summer’s DVD bonus features (when asked how to start an acting career, the comic suggests they run into Ben Stiller at a deli). And just as the DVD featurette did, Hurricane of Fun focuses on how merciless Mother Nature was with damp downpours. However, most of the movie is legitimately rare, in good shape, and an absolute hoot.
Of course, it’s a delight to watch former selves of household name performer, and seeing how much amusement they derive from the campground experience and each others’ contagious energy. Hurricane of Fun has no thrifty editing to spin anything in a superficial direction because its quite clear everyone is enjoying themselves may too much to slap on any sort of ego. Even when Zak Orth gets shy in front of Showalter’s camera and asks for it to be directed elsewhere, the pestering only makes Orth grin wider. However, a gleamingly grateful Bradley Cooper steals the show as he describes his eagerness to be around such talented people on a real-life movie set.
Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot found its way on Netflix, iTunes, and VOD just as Wain and Showalter’s prequel Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp became available for instant streaming. Both work hand-in-hand: First Day of Camp is able to give viewers that same sort of craziness the original had to offer, and Hurricane of Fun reminds us of why we love what we love.
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