New to the site in January of 2018 is one of Netflix’s best original movies, A Futile and Stupid Gesture. If you enjoy classic and irreverent movies like Caddyshack, Animal House, and National Lampoon’s Vacation, then Netflix’s A Futile and Stupid Gesture (the title taken from a line in Animal House) is a must-watch. Directed by comedian David Wain (Role Models), this Netflix gem features an ensemble cast: Martin Mull, Will Forte, Jackie Tohn, Jon Daly, Seth Green, John Gemberling, Rick Glassman, Joel McHale, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Helms, Joe Lo Truglio, and Thomas Lennon.
Before Saturday Night Live, and titles like the above-mentioned movies, there was the National Lampoon magazine. Birthed from the Harvard Lampoon, a longtime humor publication from Harvard University, National Lampoon’s magazine is one of the most controversial publications that has ever entrenched our pop culture.
The comedy organization also formed The National Lampoon Radio Hour (which featured talents like Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and Harold Ramis), and Lemmings (a stage show starring talents like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest). Eventually, they started making movies, including Animal House, the Vacation series, and Van Wilder.
This Netflix original tells the story of the rise and fall of National Lampoon and co-founder Doug Kenney. Kenney, a legend in the industry, is often credited for changing the course of comedy. Forte portrays Kenney during his younger years, and Mull hilariously narrates the movie as an older Kenney.
Props to Netflix for A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE. Doug Kenney is a comedy legend and helped write some of the funniest movies of all time. He’s from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. pic.twitter.com/6TZvofjfCp
— Ben Fulkman (@Benfulkman99) January 27, 2018
Constantly breaking the fourth wall, Mull interacts with Netflix audiences during various stages of the movie. Mull’s portrayal of Kenney often provides some of the best laugh-out-loud moments of the film. Though this Netflix movie serves as a biopic, the older version of Kenney is completely fictional since the iconic comedian passed away in 1980.
The film has received largely positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike, and Movie Nation describes why A Futile and Stupid Gesture is one of the best movies on Netflix.
“[A Futile and Stupid Gesture] is laugh out loud funny. It laughs at its own inadequacies (a mid-movie crawl rapidly listing all the writers, performers, et al who made the magazine famous but whom they couldn’t squeeze into the film) and mocks the elitism and near-racism (no black, Asian or Hispanic folks in this Harvard Mafia take on comedy) of the days when the R-rated humor magazine was born.”
Despite the tragic side of National Lampoon and Kenney’s story, best described as a dramedy, this Netflix original has an upbeat and feel-good essence to it. More than just a tale about a group of legendary comedians, or a behind-the-scenes look at some of the best comedy movies of all time, this film is about dream chasers and the artists who live to make something special. It’s also about life and the joy and pain that comes with it.
As seen in the clip below, Netflix audiences are sure to enjoy today’s actors portraying the classic comedians. And it’s apropos that McHale would portray Chevy Chase, as the duo co-starred together in Community. For those wanting to learn more about National Lampoon and Kenney’s story, the hit documentary Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead is also streaming on Netflix.
With great writing, sharp direction, stellar performances, and unapologetic humor, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is one of the best movies on Netflix, and a must-watch comedy of 2018.