A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2017)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The rise and fall of humor magazine National Lampoon and its co-founder Doug Kenney (played by Will Forte) is recounted in this biopic directed by David Wain. Domhnall Gleeson, Joel McHale, Seth Green and Thomas Lennon co-star in this ensemble homage to the subversive humorists who changed the American comedy landscape.

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Will Forte
as Douglas Kenney
Domhnall Gleeson
as Henry Beard
Emmy Rossum
as Kathryn Walker
Matt Walsh
as Matty Simmons
Natasha Lyonne
as Ann Beatts
Thomas Lennon
as Michael O'Donoghue
Martin Mull
as Modern Doug
Joel McHale
as Chevy Chase
Seth Green
as Christopher Guest
Jon Daly
as Bill Murray
John Gemberling
as John Belushi
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Critic Reviews for A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (13)

A Futile And Stupid Gesture is, ultimately, anything but pointless, exploring an important moment in pop culture through the life of a man who captured its essence as well as the people who made him an institution.

February 6, 2018 | Full Review…

A move that, if nothing else, shockingly abandons the traditional rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-redemption four-part trajectory to which nearly every biopic slavishly adheres.

January 31, 2018 | Full Review…

There's a sense that the filmmakers have bitten off more than they can chew by trying to cram both the biography and the panoramic overview into one feature.

January 29, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A Futile and Stupid Gesture feels like a quick tour of a man's greatest hits that relies on his accomplishments, rather than any storytelling artistry, to impress the audience.

January 26, 2018 | Full Review…

A thoughtful yet playful biography about an unsung comedy genius.

January 26, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

While there's a bit of hero worship going on that deflates the piece, and Wain's direction is surprisingly uninspired, the biggest problem is the script that tries to cover too much ground.

January 26, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Futile and Stupid Gesture

Forte is a very funny actor and I'm happy to see he is branching away from all the slapstick comedies he started with. Teaming up with David wain, who is also filmmaking away from the usual comedy he creates, it's interesting to see filmmakers evolve from the normal genre. The film is interesting but never goes to the depth it should, you tend to leave with the empty feeling of not receiving a real bio experience. The actors and people in this film is amazing but they never dig that deep or provide a lot of backstory, the film needed to be another 40 minutes longer. I enjoyed the film but didn't love the film, I liked the style of the film with the lampooning style but it lacked a lot depth to really set itself apart. fun but sadly forgetful. 20-03-2018.

Brendan Nicholls
Brendan Nicholls

Super Reviewer


I knew nothing about National Lampoon's origins or Doug Kenney prior to watching this. It's funny and, for what it's worth, makes complete sense in terms of how it throws at us the attitude it is meant to represent and seemingly remember. Will Forte is perfect.

Philip Price
Philip Price

Super Reviewer

David Wain, director of famed comedies such as Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models, is asked to tackle a biopic of unsung comedian Doug Kenney, founder, creator, and life of National Lampoon. While the movie is flush with one liners, packed with an assortment of famous comedians portraying other comedians, and a real story worth telling, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is too self aware and stuffed with too much information to really drive home any particular point. I wouldn't call this film laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it does make you chuckle consistently from beginning to end thanks to Will Forte's fantastic portrayal of Kenney. I just think a story like this is better served being delivered as a documentary with personal tales from former members of the Lampoon brand instead of this meta delivery Wain gives us. The problem is I was so entertained by learning about how Lampoon became a comedic powerhouse (and the influence it had on the rise of other comedic drivers like SNL) that I nearly forgot toward the end of the film that this was still a movie about Kenney. Wain glosses over too much on both sides due to his need to jump back and forth between Lampoon and Kenney, especially over the back third of the movie when a deeper character study was needed to show just how disturbed Kenney became. Outside Forte, the list of names is endless for comedic actors asked to lend a hand. Domhnall Gleeson takes on the roll of his partner Henry Beard who never really gets much depth past the partner in crime. For some reason, I still can't peg Gleeson, and I'm still weary of his casting in most things. Additions of Joel McHale as Chevy Chase are spot on while other portrayals like John Gemberling bear nearly zero resemblance to John Belushi outside of size and first name. If someone was looking to get more information about Lampoon and how it came to be, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is certainly a good start to understand just how wide of a net the comic magazine cast in its early days in the 70's. For a deeper understanding about the brand an the man who started it all, deeper research is needed.

Lane Zieben
Lane Zieben

Super Reviewer

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