15 Movie References In 'Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp' That Poke Fun At Classic Tropes

Recognition is one of the most satisfying parts of good comedy, and it's definitely what makes Wet Hot American Summer so enjoyable. Both the original movie and the new Netflix series pokes fun at the tropes we see in summer camp and "coming of age" stories over and over. What movies are referenced in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp ? There are several new spoofs to get excited about in the origin series, just like the many romantic comedy clichés in David Wain and Michael Showalter's They Came Together. The two writer/comedians have a keen understanding of what makes storytelling great and ridiculous.

Not everything is cut and dry. There are a few references in the series that are difficult to pin down. How many real life Rock & Roll recluses inspired Chris Pine's character Eric? It's impossible to pick a single stereotypical "nice guy" to mirror Kevin and Coop's romantic woes. Personally, I don't think the Delorean in the first episode is a Back to the Future reference so much as a reminder that those were real cars in the 1980s.

That said, here is a guide to some of the movies and shows whose tropes were borrowed (with love) by Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Impress your friends with your pop culture knowledge, and see if you caught them all!

Almost Famous

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Elizabeth Banks' character was given a backstory that resembled the Cameron Crowe film in which a teenager infiltrated a rock band to find a story by posing as an adult and promising not to make friends or get too close.

Never Been Kissed

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While in real life, Cameron Crowe did go undercover as a teenager to research Fast Times at Ridgemont High, we have another fictional example of this seemingly unbelievable trope. Drew Barrymore was a secret journalist in high school.

The Parent Trap

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The Burp Fight between Kevin and Drew may have seemed ridiculous, but it's nothing compared to the fencing, poker, and pranks that Hallie and Annie get up to in the The Parent Trap remake. These are normal summer camp activities, right?

Mrs. Doubtfire

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Coop comes to the rescue of his camper by posing as a woman with some odd habits. Also, I think Michael Showalter throws a little Tootsie in at the end of his speech to Donna.

Pitch Perfect

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The "Auditions" sequence is familiar to fans of Glee and Smash, but the most stereotypical part was Andy's audition at the very end. Just like Beca in Pitch Perfect, Andy showed up late, accompanied herself with an unconventional audition piece, acted way too cool for school, and yet still managed to blow everyone away. You also see this trope in High School Musical, when Troy shows up at the last minute to audition, and with the "token straight boy" in Camp, which I'll get to next.


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Another cult classic that I can't recommend enough, Camp is about a musical theatre camp that has real New York directors and choreographers working with the students, just like the characters played by John Slattery and Michaela Watkins. Claude's relationship with Susie also has some hints of Fame, don't you think? Camp also features a young Anna Kendrick as a villain. Watch it now!

Camp Rock

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The whole concept of putting on a full musical, or even performing one song, in a single day of camp is ridiculous, but movies like Camp Rock would make you believe it's common practice.

The Outsiders

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The showdown between Camp Firewood and Camp Tigerclaw is a little bit West Side Story and a little bit The Outsiders.

The Breakfast Club

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Lindsay's speech to her editor is a direct homage to the end of the John Hughes movie. Camp Tigerclaw's snobby rich kids are also staples in many Hughes teen classics. Andy also references Bender when he asks Katie, "You know what we have for dinner in my house? Nothing! Sometimes chicken!"

Mad Men

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Not only do Jon Hamm, Rich Sommer, and John Slattery appear in First Day of Camp, but Chris Meloni's secret identity backstory is similar to the origin of Dick Whitman/Don Draper in the AMC series. He's also got a little bit of a Jason Bourne thing going on, don't you think?

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

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Speaking of John Slattery, his entrance is meant to imitate Gene Wilder.

Dirty Dancing

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The idea of a big leap that Andy and Katie are struggling with until the performance is 100 percent stolen from this classic camp film.

Little Shop of Horrors

The Electro-City song "The Streets" is reminiscent of "Skid Row" from the cult musical.

The China Syndrome

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The Xenstar conspiracy in First Day of Camp resembles the 1978 thriller, which is especially fun because, as Mashable's Hillary Busis pointed out, The China Syndrome is referenced in the Wet Hot American Summer movie. There's also a shoutout to All The President's Men, another political thriller from that era.

Wet Hot American Summer

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This one is downright uncanny. The series shares a cast, characters, plot, setting, costumes, props, and a name with the 2001 film... of the same name. Crazy, huh?

Image: Saeed Adyani/Netflix