A Futile and Stupid Gesture is the genius name for a film directed by David Wain, about Doug Kenney and the creation of the National Lampoon comedy empire.
This film is hilarious while, at the same time, tugging on your heartstrings like no other.
The film opens with a modern day Doug Kenney, played by the always wonderful Martin Mull. He’s being interviewed and we soon learn he is the narrator to our story.
It’s been hard for me to put the genius of the use of the narrator into words. You see, Doug Kenney as the narrator strings the story together, showing up from time to time in the scenes of the past that we are watching. Meanwhile, “young” Doug Kenney, played by Will Forte, from time to time will chime in, breaking the fourth wall. And he’s not the only one that does that. But, none of the fourth wall breaking feels weird or forced. It feels natural and greatly helps the flow of the film.
Even more genius is the reveal that older Doug Kenney is being used as a narrative device, seeing as the actual Doug Kenney sadly fell to his death in 1980. The whole structure of the film just works so well.
Every actor in this film was great. I mean, these are all hilarious modern day comedians playing some of the most iconic comedians of the 70s. The two that I want to mention, in particular though for their outstanding performances are Rick Glassman, who plays Harold Ramis, and Joel McHale, who portrays Chevy Chase.
Glassman’s portrayal of the late Harold Ramis (may he rest in peace) is so spot on, it’s almost creepy.
Joel McHale’s portrayal of Chevy Chase is made to be twice as funny solely because of the two actor’s time together on the show Community. McHale really does have down pat Chase’s movements and his way of speaking. The two actors really do a marvelous job.
The fact that this film flat out says that it changed things for the sake of the film is another thing that makes it so good. They’re not trying to be as accurate as possible. The whole film is based on the book of the same name, written by John Karp. Michael Colton and John Aboud do a solid job of translating that book to the screen.
Again, this is a film about the untimely downfall of a promising writer, laced carefully with comedic elements. It’s funny and at the same time feels very real. It’s 1,000% worth the watch.
Currently streaming on Netflix.