National Lampoon is almost certainly a name that you have heard several times, but might not actually know it's roots. It's known best now for its movies; around Christmas time, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation airs almost around the clock, and their first feature Animal House is a college dorm room staple. But National Lampoon was originally a magazine in the seventies that pushed the boundaries of comedy way far. Netflix's A Futile and Stupid Gesture explores the origin and rise of the National Lampoon, and you can view the wild and surreal trailer below.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture is due to premiere next month at the Sundance Film Festival, but Netflix has released the first trailer for the biographical comedy film. Based on the book of the same name by Josh Karp, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is written by Michael Colton and John Aboud and is directed by David Wain. The movie tells the origins of National Lampoon from its early days as a comedy magazine, to its eventual growth into the movie business and sad decline. Will Forte stars as Doug Kenney, the co-founder of National Lampoon, and he's joined by a number of stars that include Domhnall Gleason, Joel McHale, Matt Walsh, and Jon Daly.
Director David Wain seems to be taking a very interesting and surreal approach to the material -- as should maybe have been expected from the guy who made Wet Hot American Summer and They Came Together. The movie is narrated by an older Doug Kenney (Martin Mull), which is weird because the real Kenney tragically died young in 1980. It looks like there will be lots of fourth wall breaking too, like Narrator Doug pointing out that none of these actors actually look like the real people they are playing. It's a tactic that fits the nonsensical humor of the Lampoon pretty well.
The National Lampoon was a magazine that began in the seventies and was best known for the black comedy that defined it in its first decade. As is shown in the trailer, the magazine offended just about every person they could with jokes that would never fly today (all those covers were real), but that no holds barred attitude to comedy was what made it such an institution in its day. Several Lampoon writers and talent went on to be guiding voices on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons.