Although not a masterpiece, the original movie from 2001 is a charming and entertaining one. It was funny. The sequels have been disappointing, with every installment progressively worse.
Everything about Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later screams "first draft". It's like they were spit balling in the writer's room saying "wouldn't it be funny if" and it never progressed beyond that step. I have witnessed that firsthand on comedy projects I have worked on where the writers are howling with laughter and slapping each other on the back, just to have everything fall flat when you shoot it and hand it over to the poor editor who is the one who has got to try and save it.
Perhaps one problem is that the core croup come out of sketch comedy via The State. There is no narrative flow to Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. It's easier to mask that in a 90 minute movie, like the original, but when you stretch it for 8 episodes (or rather 16 episodes, since both Netflix shows have the same structure) it becomes quite tedious.
One show also made by people from The State that manage to pull this off beautifully is Reno 9/11 (one of my favorite shows). But the structure of that show (essentially a COPS parody) lends itself perfectly to the sketch format, it doesn't have the need for the same narrative flow that Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later aspires to.
But the cardinal sin with Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later is that it unlike the original movie, isn't very funny. Most ideas are half baked, and the actors are going through the motions. It didn't help that every time someone shouted "Walla-walla-hoo!" I wanted to kick their teeth in.
Perhaps the original movie was lightning in a bottle.
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