‘A Futile And Stupid Gesture’
Director: David Wain
Starring: Will Forte, Domhnall Gleeson
3 (Out Of 5) Globes
Plot: After graduating from Harvard, where he was the editor of The Harvard Lampoon, Doug Kenney was supposed to go off and get a real job. Instead, he founded a national version of the publication, which would go on to become the most influential magazine in the history of comedy, and change the landscape of the genre forever. “A Futile And Stupid Gesture” takes a look at the launch of the magazine and how it paved the way for some of American comedy’s biggest stars. But, mostly, it is about the life, career, and humor of Doug Kenney.
Review: There’s a moment early on in “A Futile And Stupid Gesture” where Martin Mull’s modern Doug Kenney, who is also the film’s narrator, says straight to camera that the comedy had to get rid of several characters and amalgamate reality in order to squeeze everything into its running time.
It’s a cute, seemingly throwaway comment, but it also sums up why “A Futile And Stupid Gesture” doesn’t hit the heights it was perhaps capable of. Because, like many other Netflix films, any attempt to plunge into too much detail or create a dark mood feels too broad and falls flat.
Thankfully, though, the story of the “National Lampoon,” the film’s retelling of some of its most famous jokes, and just the inherent wackiness and anarchy created by its ensemble of iconic characters makes “A Futile And Stupid Gesture” worthwhile, as, more so than most other films, it actually gives an insight into what made these comedians tick.
In fact, it might just be the quintessential Netflix film, as it is the sort of inconsequential, slightly enlightening, and pleasantly humorous film that you don’t mind watching from the comfort of your sofa, but it never comes close to possessing the gravitas that would warrant a trip to the cinema.