Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is one of the crudest, hilarious, eye-opening, and intriguing movies on Netflix. When searching for the best movies on Netflix, full-length documentary features are often overlooked or ignored—but this one shouldn’t be. If you’re a fan of irreverent films, intellectual humor, or stories about carving your own path, then this is an absolute must-watch. The feature is about the publication and production company National Lampoon, and the ingredients of what brought that era together.
Their audacious humor first entered our pop culture with the brand’s magazine in the ’70s, which was soon followed by a stage show and radio series. When the publication first launched it took raunchy comedy and parody to a whole new level. The issues featured intelligent commentary and academic humor blended with crudity, graphic illustrations, and nudity. But unlike some periodicals or movies from yesteryear, their content still stands the test of time; many people would be just as offended and challenged, or entertained and delighted, by the substance today as they were when they first launched.
Directed by Douglas Tirola, Drunk Stoned features commentary from a variety of personalities including Judd Apatow, John Goodman, Tim Matheson, Beverly D’Angelo, Danny Abelson, John Landis, Chevy Chase, and Janis Hirsch, among many others. Part of what makes the story so incredible is the magic that National Lampoon captured. The stars aligned perfectly; iconic performers (several mentioned above) came together and collaborated in a way that had not been done before.
The influential group would eventually create legendary cinematic features like Animal House(currently on Netflix) and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Their intelligent and comedic-magic would end up influencing pop culture and movies to this very day. Contributors and performers of the troupe would eventually lend their talents to Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Will & Grace, and countless films. FilmInk describes the influence this group had, and why Drunk Stoned is one of the best movies on Netflix.
“You’d never see the likes of Judd Apatow, Tina Fey, or Amy Schumer minding their language or filtering their content, and that’s largely because the 1970’s comedy crew, National Lampoon, challenged the status quo and paved the way for contemporary comedians to confront religion, sex, politics, and everything in between.
“With this sensitive yet playful voice, Tirola shows how decades of richly comedic material found its cultural maturity.”
The documentary starts off with a throwback audio clip from their radio show that warned listeners that “it is featured as adult entertainment.” This nostalgic clip serves as a caveat for this very film. With a stellar soundtrack that reflects the period, the documentary unfolds with artistic beauty by showing their creative images from the magazine. It also features rare footage that includes the likes of philosopher Marshall McLuhan, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi (to just name a few).
To watch the amount of talent that was involved in every aspect of this ensemble is absolutely breathtaking; they were a potpourri of creative geniuses that were well ahead of their time. This collection of talent was so stunning that it might never happen again. Looking at a photo of the young group conjures up a similar feeling when looking at a picture of Jordan, Pippen, Parish, and Rodman of the ’96 Chicago Bulls.
The majority of the film plays like a feel-good celebration of that special time, but like any good story, there is also tragedy and heartbreak. Doug Kenney was a co-founder of National Lampoon, and he tragically passed away because of a hiking accident in 1980. Kenney was Chevy Chase’s best friend, and watching Chase reminisce about his companion reveals a side to the actor that is rarely seen by audiences.
Though Kenney’s passing may not have been directly related to drugs, those substances were a part of that culture, and the film has no issues showing that—in great detail. But the documentary concludes just like how National Lampoon started, with a loud comedic-bang.
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[Featured Image by Universal Pictures]