“A Futile and Stupid Gesture” stars Will Forte, Domhnall Gleeson, Martin Mull, Joel McHale, Thomas Lennon, John Gemberling, Matt Walsh, Rick Glassman, Jon Daly, Seth Green and Emily Rossum. Released on Netflix on January 26, 2018, the film chronicles the rise and fall of the popular humor magazine known as National Lampoon.
The film is directed by David Wain, who also directed films such as Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models, and Wanderlust. It is based on the 2006 book of the same name by Josh Karp. I was originally planning on seeing another film for the Oscars, but with the streets and the ground all covered with snow, I decided to stay home tonight and review one of the movies that just premiered on Netflix last weekend. Better safe than sorry, folks. The film I’ll be looking at shows the history of National Lampoon and how it changed the way people see comedy. I’ve only known National Lampoon from the Vacation movies that starred Chevy Chase, especially Christmas Vacation, so it would be interesting to see if this movie can convince me to check out some of its other works.
The movie showcases the most notable accomplishments that Doug Kenney obtained during his career, such as the creation of National Lampoon, the controversies surrounding its humor, and the making of the cult comedy classic, “Animal House”. While biopics usually display fact-based events in the form of dramas, this film takes a more comedic approach in telling the story about the pros and cons at running one’s own business, especially the magazine business. Even though this approach wasn’t able to make it stand out as much in terms of its substance, it was able to tickle my funny bones as well as providing an interesting look at the guy who changed comedy forever. Will Forte delivered a very impressive performance as Doug Kenney with Gleeson following suit as Henry Beard. Martin Mull provided the narration of the events as the modern version of Doug Kenney. He’s clearly the best part of the film for me because of his comedic timing. Every scene he’s been in was nothing but hilarious. The comedy in this film is nothing too offensive or bizarre compared to the humor from National Lampoon, but for what it’s worth, it did its part in delivering some worthy laughs that may please fans of the popular magazine. As for the storytelling, it definitely explores the pressures of a simple man running a magazine business. It’s not a strong representation of the situation, but the film’s charm and humor were able to keep it from going out of business.
Overall, it wasn’t able to join the “Best Biopics” club, but “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” is still a fascinating and humorous look at National Lampoon. With a solid cast, some decent storytelling, and a suitable amount of laughs, this is the first solid film that Netflix has put out this year. If you’re a fan of National Lampoon or if you’re just interested in how it came to be, it’s worth checking out.
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