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Kamis, 16 Juli 2015

'Wet Hot American Summer' goes back in time


That's three-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, spectacularly cheesy in a pink shirt, teaching wide-eyed kids all about his passion for theater.
And yes, that's his stage partner Amy Poehler, equally giddy and every bit as exuberant, in the preposterous, eagerly anticipated Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. 
The 2001 cult movie about counselors at a sleep-away camp, a flop that morphed into an unlikely fan darling, returns  Friday on Netflix as an eight-episode prequel set earlier in the summer of 1981.  The original cast, including Paul RuddElizabeth Banks, Cooper and Poehler, is back for a hot-blooded romp at Camp Firewood, a low-rent institution in Maine. And they're joined by new additions including Jason Schwartzman,Josh CharlesLake Bell and Jon Hamm. More than a decade later, the actors play (slightly) younger versions of their original characters, clad in standout '80s garb: cut-off denim shorts, friendship bracelets and tube socks. Some spent only a day or two on set.
"We’d been talking about it in a sort of pie-in-the-sky kind of way for a really long time," says co-creator Mike Showalter. "Around the time of the 10-year anniversary of the movie, there were some retrospectives, (and) there was some excitement around this thing that keeps on going."
Schwartzman came on board after he geeked out over the original, which earned $295,000 at the domestic box office but had a steady afterlife on DVD and Netflix.
“I saw it shortly after it came out and it instantly was something I knew I’d be referring to and drawing on from here on out. It had a profound effect on me, to say the least,” he says. “It was a feature film that felt like anything could happen at any moment. That was an exciting thing for me to watch.”
Being on set, he says, was “super-surreal. I’m looking around at these people who have had a big impact on me as these characters. You need a character like my guy, a camp counselor who is a bit of a fuss bucket. He’s the guy who’s the same age as them in theory, but he would not get invited to hang out with them very often. He plays by the book. He likes having authority.”
Like the original, the series is truly an ensemble. Some of the actors have soared professionally — Cooper starred in last year's American Sniper, and Banks directed the summer hit Pitch Perfect 2 and has a key role in the blockbuster Hunger Gamesmovies.
This time, summer kicks off at Firewood with the arrival of campers — who engage in a burp-off, among other misadventures — and an undercover reporter (Banks) set out to write an expos√©. One counselor (Bell) elicits lustful looks. Another (Rudd) preens and does push-ups. Ben and Susie (Cooper and Poehler) craft the mother of all theater productions, with the help of a washed-up stage veteran (John Slattery). And across the lake, a rival preppy counselor (Charles) seethes and plots.
Charles, who also is appearing on this season’s Masters of Sex, based his character, Charles Blake, on the villains from classic ‘80s movies such as Pretty in Pink and The Karate Kid. “Doesn’t he know that caviar and corn dogs don’t mix,” snarls Charles upon spying his girlfriend being wooed by Rudd.
Charles was a "big fan" of the original film. “My friends were in it and the idea to be with them, for a couple of weeks, giggling, was too good to be true,” he says. “I didn’t bother to ask questions.”
What did he take away from the experience? “That I love to laugh. I love doing comedy. And how fun it was to have a little bit of a hair extension with Blake? That wisp of blond, that frosted hair, it was the icing on the douche cake.”
Bell was a new mom when she turned up to play a teenager, after being offered the role by her friend David Wain, who wrote (with Showalter) and directed both Wet Hotprojects and appears as an Israeli soccer coach.
“This was the first job I did after giving birth. Because I am friends with most of the people on the cast, I felt it was a safe place to re-enter the world of acting. It was like family,” she says. “I was loopy on hormones. Having to play sexy time with my friends, it was hard to keep a straight face. I was breastfeeding between takes. I was feeling like a maniac. I hid behind my hair.”
In the original film, Michael Ian Black’s McKinley was in love with Cooper’s Ben — they wound up getting hitched by the lake. For him, coming back was a no-brainer.
Does he have any insights about Wet Hot American Summer's bizarre enduring appeal?
“I have no idea because it’s so stupid in the best possible way. Maybe it’s unabashed silliness. It’s so gleefully dumb. It’s so exuberant,” Black says. “If you’re looking for anything beyond what you’re seeing in front of you that very second, you’ll be disappointed. It exists moment to moment, just like youth.”

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