Author Topic: A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018 - now on Netflix) [National Lampoon Biopic]  (Read 528 times)

Retinend

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This is amazing! I am a big Will Forte fan so I don't know how this passed me by for so long. He plays the co-founder of National Lampoon, which is an interesting subject for any comedy fan.

If you are only vaguely aware of National Lampoon, it started as a magazine of whimsical college humour ("The Harvard Lampoon") and fits into a proud American print comedy tradition somewhere between MAD magazine and The Onion.

The brand expanded into film production, releasing classics such as "Animal House" and "Caddyshack", which immortalized the sense of humour that began with the meeting of two kindered souls in comedy in Harvard in 1964: (Will Forte as) Douglas Kenney and (Domhnall Gleeson as) Henry Beard. At the heart of the film, then, is a Lennon-McCartney type relationship of two young men finding their way in the world: a "post-coming of age" story, so to speak.

Highly recommended!

I liked it way more than I probably should have, given the amount of details they get wrong (amusingly lampshaded with an on-screen scroll midway through, but still) and the at-times bizarre casting (embodying the tall, charming and urbane Brian McConnachie in the odd, trollish figure of Neil Casey is strange, and Seth Green as Christopher Guest - ?!?, but I will confess to being amused at Matt Lucas' being cast as Tony Hendra, just imagining how irked Hendra must have been, and there's a soul deserving of much worse than a mere irking), but it's subject matter very close to my heart, so there's pleasure in seeing it played out in front of me. Forte's good, but I daresay Gleeson is the standout as Henry Beard (and Thomas Lennon makes a fine Michael O'Donoghue). Flawed for sure, and there's a whole the-wrong-kid-died subplot that, however true it may have been, really should have been approached differently now that Walk Hard officially made it a risible biopic cliché, but I liked it, by and large.

For a somewhat more realistic take on the Lampoon, I recommend the Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead documentary from 2015, if you haven't checked it out yet. Even if, like this film and most of the biographical works out there, it basically pretends the franchise ceased to exist the minute Kenney did; the story of its decline from irreverence to irrelevance over the ensuing decades is worth telling, if a hell of a lot more depressing than even Kenney's tragic tale.

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On the subject of "details they (deliberately) got wrong", they tricked me all the way through with that one narrative device that turns out to be totally misleading. I was totally caught off guard. To subvert an old cliche: I cried and I laughed.

It's in my opinion the second best American[1] comedy film of the new century, after "World's Greatest Dad" and before "They Came Together".
 1. specifying "American" because I don't want to decide whether I like these films more than "Shaun of The Dead"/ "Hot Fuzz"

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