A Futile and Stupid Gesture is a Netflix film about the Douglas Kenney, the comedy legend who came up with the National Lampoon brand and films like Animal House and Caddyshack. The movie revolves around his life – his college years, his friendship with Henry Beard (who found National Lampoon with him), his rise to fame, his chase for approval from father, and his struggles – a typical biopic narrative.
Douglas Kenney (who is portrayed by Will Forte) is a man who can’t find real meaning in his life. Though he co-founded National Lampoon, his heart wasn’t always in it. He wasn’t someone who can handle responsibility, which frustrated his friend Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) to no end. Both Forte and Gleeson give nice performances here, especially Gleeson who I have not yet seen veer into the comedy route, though he is more of the straight man in this film.
I think the biggest enjoyment here is seeing current comedy actors starring as early comedy writers and stars. Joel McHale who plays Chevy Chase in the film is one of the highlights. They poke fun at the fact that the actors don’t look like their real life counterparts, which just adds to the fun of the film and doesn’t distract for the story.
As for negatives, I would say it’s a pretty paint by numbers story, nothing really “new” or innovative happens in the film. I also was really interested in the side characters of comedy writers and thought it would be nice to get more of their backstories.
I give A Futile and Stupid Gesture a B.