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A Futile and Stupid Gesture: First Look at the Film about the Making of National Lampoon #book2movies

It might be just a little too early in the morning for me. I’ve watched this first trailer for A Futile and Stupid Gesture twice and haven’t laughed once. I’m pretty sure the movie is a comedy because it’s based on the eponymous book about the making of the National Lampoon empire created by Doug Kenney (Will Forte) and Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson). We have famous present day comedic actors playing famous funny men and women—Martin Mull is the modern day Doug Kenny, Joel McHale is Chevy Chase, Seth Green is Christopher Guest. So it should be funny, right?

We have appearances by iconic names in comedy like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, Dan Ackroyd, Ivan Reitman and John Landis played by actors who aren’t iconic, at least not yet. They may be one day, but not today. Emmy Rossum plays Kathryn Walker, Doug Kenney’s wife until his early death at age 33.

About the book

The ultimate biography of National Lampoon and its cofounder Doug Kenney, this book offers the first complete history of the immensely popular magazine and its brilliant and eccentric characters. With wonderful stories of the comedy scene in New York City in the 1970's and National Lampoon's place at the center of it, this chronicle shares how the magazine spawned a popular radio show and two long-running theatrical productions that helped launch the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Gilda Radner and went on to inspire Saturday Night Live. More than 130 interviews were conducted with people connected to Kenney and the magazine, including Chevy Chase, John Hughes, P. J. O'Rourke, Tony Hendra, Sean Kelly, Chris Miller, and Bruce McCall. These interviews, along with behind-the-scenes stories about the making of both Animal House and Caddyshack, help to capture the nostalgia, humor, and popular culture that National Lampoon still inspires.
Apparently, life for the real Doug Kenney wasn’t a laugh a minute and success only exacerbated his problems with drugs and excess being his response. Hence the wild and crazy trailer. Hoping the film is a more grounded and insightful look at the rise and tragic fall of Kenney—he died in what’s been called an accidental fall from a cliff —while possibly providing some laughs along the way. Watch it and let me know what you think.

Did you laugh? Is it even supposed to be funny? The film is classified on imdb as a biography not a comedy so maybe that’s the issue. The issue just might be an over the top trailer created by a hack.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture lands at Netflix on January 26th.