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A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

TV-MA | | Biography, Comedy | 26 January 2018 (USA)
In the 1970s and '80s, National Lampoon's success and influence creates a new media empire overseen in part by the brilliant and troubled Douglas Kenney.

Director:

David Wain
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3,515 ( 84)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Gingerich Frank Gingerich ... Doug - Age 12
Morgan Gingerich Morgan Gingerich ... Doug - Age 12
Annette O'Toole ... Stephanie Kenney
Harry Groener ... Harry Kenney
Martin Mull ... Modern Doug
David Wain ... Interviewer
Domhnall Gleeson ... Henry Beard
Will Forte ... Douglas Kenney
Ben F. Campbell ... Harvard Jester (as Ben Campbell)
Jon Klaft ... Preppy Student
Camille Guaty ... Alex Garcia-Mata
Brad Morris ... Peter Ivers
Carla Gallo ... Lucy Fisher
Beau Bassewitz ... Umpire
Rick Overton ... First Publisher
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Storyline

An old version of humorist Douglas Kenney tells the story of how he and Henry Beard parleyed their success in their campus magazine, Harvard Lampoon, into the commercial magazine, National Lampoon. Drawing upon their checkered lives and an aggressively puckish sense of humor, the pair created a publication that would redefine American comedy with outrageous drollery that grabbed the zeitgeist of the decade that expanded across various media. Unfortunately, for all his success, Doug Kenney with his overhanging insecurities, ego and irresponsible appetites began to consume him until he alienates everyone who ever cared and supported him even as they imitated him. In the end, this iconoclastic funnyman would come to a tragedy that comes when your comedy doesn't have enough distance. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Being the King of Comedy is No Joke. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Comedy

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 January 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Futile and Stupid Gesture See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.90 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Mug that Doug shows Kathryn in L.A. is identical to the one that Conan O'Brien has had on his desk throughout his run as a Late Night Host. See more »

Goofs

Just before his death in Hawaii, Doug was shown driving a '87-'95 Jeep Wrangler. He Died in 1980. See more »

Quotes

Douglas Kenney: Fuck those guys, you know? They're just like my dad. They jerk off to Eisenhower biographies.
Henry Beard: Yes, but, and this is what I love about them, they have money.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the end credits have rolled, Martin Mull is shown singing the song "Time of My Life" with members of the cast. See more »

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Ca Plane Pour Moi
Written by Lou De Prijck (as Francis Jean Deprijck) and Yves Lacomblez (as Yves Maurice A. Lacomblez)
Performed by Plastic Bertrand
Courtesy of AMC Belgium
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shirley doesn't live here anymore
28 January 2018 | by begobSee all my reviews

A driven joker pushes his way through Harvard and on to comedy stardom, but the fun begins to get manic ...

Clever story telling that takes a while to get the right mood, but once it hits the American Hustle-style montage pace with the '70s period look it just rolls along. Plenty of decent laughs, but with good introspection by the lead actor. I didn't know much about this guy, and his stuff was just before my time, but I found the story really engaging, and of course there's the satisfaction of spotting a host of comedy stars at the start of their screen careers. Biggest laugh was Chevy Chase trying to pour a drink at the parents' new mansion.

The meta narrative is amusing, with a pointed reference to the source of the movie's title, but it also pulls a clever trick in setting up a shock ending for anyone who doesn't know this man's life. Only complaint is that there's no killer line. Maybe: "All you had to say was don't call me Shirley".

The performances are good all round, and the direction, editing and cheerful music keep it bubbling all the way through.

Overall: Nice surprise, big recommend.


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