Hello all you nerd officiates!
MasonicVader here with another review for you. I hope with my previous review of Batman and Bill, you are seeing a pattern. Looking for things that you might now see, or have travelled under the radar. I love all types of genres and as we all know – Nerds run the world!!! Or at least come up with the coolest stuff. I saw this gem of a biopic when I couldn’t agree on anything to watch. You know, you are staring at all the things on whatever platform you use to watch movies. You go twenty minutes without finding something, then one thing comes across the screen that peaks your interest. That is exactly what this video did to me. After watching, it gave me more of an appreciation of the impact of what this biopic was based off. So, without further ado, lets dive into A Futile and Stupid Gesture.
When you hear the words “Comedic Genius” you might think of Robin Williams, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, or Eddie Murphy. Funny thing is (no pun intended) that there are actually two lesser known guys that were truly comedic geniuses. Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard are Harvard graduates that were writers/editors for the Harvard Lampoon, a comedic newspaper for Harvard. They together wrote a book called Bored of the Rings, which you can tell by the name of the book, was a parody of “Lord of the Rings.” The success of that book led them to being editors of the Harvard Lampoon. When they were about to graduate from Harvard, Douglas convinced (not really; pause the biopic at the list and read the facts) Henry to start the National Lampoon magazine, rather than go into the business world.
The National Lampoon
Now for the young people reading this, yes that is the same National Lampoon that brought you the Vacation movies and Van Wilder. Played by Will Forte, the biography follows the rise and fall of Douglas Kenney. How he and Henry, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Bill Weasley from Harry Potter, or General Hux from Star Wars), were able to start National Lampoon Magazine (1970-1998) with the help of Weight Watchers – you need to watch to understand. The magazine was different and was against the times. Think Playboy, except it is more of the comedy and funny stories, and less of the nudity – but there was still some. It got so popular that Lampoon was able to transcend to radio, books, and eventually to movies. It brought together some of the biggest stars in comedy at the time, and quite frankly, of all time. Stars like Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Christopher Guest. It also brought together some of the best comedic writers like Ivan Reitman, John Hughes, and Harold Ramis.
The Impact of Lampooning
If National Lampoon had not existed, many things that we find as a staple in entertainment would not exist. As you recognize many of the names above, people do not realize that Saturday Night Live’s success started with three of Lampoon’s best comedic talents in Chase, Radner, and Belushi. Who right before joining the cast of SNL, was touring around doing “The Lemmings.” A live comedy show done by National Lampoon. When Chase left SNL, they replaced him with Bill Murray, another Lampoon actor.
Animal House was at the time, the biggest grossing comedy of all time. It was also the measuring stick for all future comedies. Lampoon’s follow up movie Caddyshack – which Douglas thought was a disaster – has been considered one of the greatest comedies of all time. It showcased the comedic acting skills of Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Ted Knight. It also introduced the world to Rodney Dangerfield and a dancing gopher. Harold Ramis’ time writing for both of those movies, brought Egon Spengler to the screen, with the rest of the cast of Ghostbusters. Accompanied by Bill Murray – whose character was written initially for John Belushi. John Hughes was a writer from National Lampoon, who eventually wrote/directed movies like National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Home Alone.
The Legacy of the Lampoon
National Lampoon was able to break barriers and leave deep impressions in the minds of many people across the world. Even though the magazine is no more, the brand itself is still going. It now produces more straight to DVD movies, but it’s impact will always be felt. Sadly, Douglas Kenney would not see all the future success National Lampoon produced. For those who know the story, I do not have to say, and for those who do not, you have to watch. This biopic shows how two comedic geniuses in Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard were able to change the way the world thinks. It shows how the human mind can be twisted, pressed, baked, and fried, but still produce greatness. And how one man – with sweet sideburns and a righteous pony tail – could falter in life, but influence almost every mind from the 70’s and 80s through laughter, fun, potty humor, and marshmallows (seriously watch this)!