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A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

TV-MA | | Biography, Comedy | 26 January 2018 (USA)
In the 1970s and '80s, National Lampoon's success and influence creates a new media empire overseen in part by the brilliant and troubled Douglas Kenney.

Director:

David Wain
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2,801 ( 193)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Gingerich Frank Gingerich ... Doug - Age 12
Morgan Gingerich Morgan Gingerich ... Doug - Age 12
Annette O'Toole ... Stephanie Kenney
Harry Groener ... Harry Kenney
Martin Mull ... Modern Doug
David Wain ... Interviewer
Domhnall Gleeson ... Henry Beard
Will Forte ... Douglas Kenney
Ben F. Campbell ... Harvard Jester (as Ben Campbell)
Jon Klaft ... Preppy Student
Camille Guaty ... Alex Garcia-Mata
Brad Morris ... Peter Ivers
Carla Gallo ... Lucy Fisher
Beau Bassewitz ... Umpire
Rick Overton ... First Publisher
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Storyline

An old version of humorist Douglas Kenney tells the story of how he and Henry Beard parleyed their success in their campus magazine, Harvard Lampoon, into the commercial magazine, National Lampoon. Drawing upon their checkered lives and an aggressively puckish sense of humor, the pair created a publication that would redefine American comedy with outrageous drollery that grabbed the zeitgeist of the decade that expanded across various media. Unfortunately, for all his success, Doug Kenney with his overhanging insecurities, ego and irresponsible appetites began to consume him until he alienates everyone who ever cared and supported him even as they imitated him. In the end, this iconoclastic funnyman would come to a tragedy that comes when your comedy doesn't have enough distance. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Being the King of Comedy is No Joke. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Comedy

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 January 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Futile and Stupid Gesture See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.90 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mark Metcalf, who plays the Second Publisher, is famous as Doug Niedermeyer from National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). Also, the question he asks, "What do you wanna do with your life?" is said by Metcalf in Twisted Sister's music video "I Wanna Rock." See more »

Goofs

When Doug is driving a Jeep in Hawaii the Jeep has square headlights. These didn't appear on Jeeps until 1986. The scene is set in 1980. See more »

Quotes

Tom Snyder: Mr. Kenney, it's a fine line between being clever and offensive, isn't it?
Douglas Kenney: Look, if I could just say something in defense of National Lampoon for one moment...
Tom Snyder: Please.
Douglas Kenney: We come from a tradition of truth-tellers. A long time ago, there was someone else society found offensive. They thought that what he did was radical - dangerous. They persecuted him... and eventually killed him. Of course, I'm referring to Dracula.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the end credits have rolled, Martin Mull is shown singing the song "Time of My Life" with members of the cast. See more »

Connections

References Caddyshack (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Doggone It
Written by Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke
Performed by J.P. Robinson
Courtesy of Henry Stone Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A strong TV feel to it!
2 February 2018 | by HellmantSee all my reviews

'A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A comedy biopic about writer Doug Kenney, who was the main contributor to the success of National Lampoon in the 1970s and 80s. The film stars Will Forte as Kenney, and it was directed by David Wain (who also helmed 'WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER', and several episodes of the TV series based on it). It costars Domhnall Gleeson, Martin Mull, Emmy Rossum, Matt Walsh, Joel McHale, and many others (in cameos as famous comedians). The movie was scripted by John Aboud and Michael Colton, and it's based on the book (of the same name) by Josh Karp. The film was released by Netflix through it's streaming site, and it's gotten mixed to positive reviews from critics. I found it to be both educational and funny, but it's also a little too dark and unbalanced.

The film is narrated by Doug Kenney, supposedly in modern day (Mull). He tells his life story, starting when he was in his twenties (Forte); when he and his best friend Henry Beard (Gleeson) decided to create the magazine National Lampoon. It of course became a huge success, and blockbuster movies followed (like 'ANIMAL HOUSE' and 'CADDYSHACK'). Kenney could never be content, or happy, still though.

I knew nothing about Doug Kenney previous to seeing this movie, but I love his work. So I was absolutely fascinated by this film, and I of course found it to be very educational. I also loved seeing all of these other actors portraying other famous actors (like Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and John Belushi). I also just really enjoyed seeing how these classic comedy films, and that famous comedy magazine, came to life. Forte is great in the lead too, and the supporting cast is all more than adequate. The film, as funny and interesting as it often is, is still really dark and depressing though. It left me with mixed feelings about how I really felt about it as a whole. It's also got a strong TV feel to it, which kind of cheapens what should have been a theatrical film feel (the story deserved a theatrical presentation at least).


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