A Futile and Stupid Gesture
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A Futile and Stupid Gesture

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and then available on Netflix practically the next day, the true-story-inspired comedy-drama (accent on the comedy) A Futile and Stupid Gesture recounts the life and high times of Doug Kenney, the now-nearly-forgotten co-founder of the seminal (accent on…never mind) humor magazine-cum-movie brand National Lampoon. Mostly incarnated by Will Forte (with assists from Martin Mull as an older version, and twins Frank and Morgan Gingerich as the 12-year-old Doug), Kenney comes across here as a classic biopic character: gifted, charismatic, original and audacious, but also a demon-ridden sometime asshole, especially to the women in his life.

At its best, the film crafts a reasonably honest portrait of countercultural types (albeit mostly with Ivy League educations) like Kenney and co-conspirator Henry Beard (the ubiquitous Domhnall Gleeson) colliding and colluding awkwardly with the establishment in order to subvert it. Of course, there are bust-ups and failures along the way, but Kenney manages to get it together just enough to edit a successful magazine, hire and cultivate writers and performers who would go on to be the first generation of Saturday Night Live, and as the culmination of a life’s work, write and produce those pinnacles of late 20th century culture, the films Animal House (1978) and Caddyshack (1980).

Duration: 101 min

Release:

IMDb: 6.8

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A Futile and Stupid Gesture
A Futile and Stupid Gesture
A Futile and Stupid Gesture
A Futile and Stupid Gesture